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Climate Change and the Course of Global History
A Rough Journey


Part of Studies in Environment and History

  • Date Published: May 2014
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521692182

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About the Authors
  • Climate Change and the Course of Global History presents the first global study by a historian to fully integrate the earth-system approach of the new climate science with the material history of humanity. Part I argues that geological, environmental, and climatic history explain the pattern and pace of biological and human evolution. Part II explores the environmental circumstances of the rise of agriculture and the state in the Early and Mid-Holocene, and presents an analysis of human health from the Paleolithic through the rise of the state. Part III introduces the problem of economic growth and examines the human condition in the Late Holocene from the Bronze Age through the Black Death. Part IV explores the move to modernity, stressing the emerging role of human economic and energy systems as earth-system agents in the Anthropocene. Supported by climatic, demographic, and economic data, this provides a pathbreaking model for historians of the environment, the world, and science.

    • Can be used in a wide variety of courses (such as environmental history, demographic history and climate science)
    • Is the first global study by a historian that integrates an earth system approach to climate science with the material history of humanity
    • Supported by climatic, demographic, and economic data in 59 figures, tables and maps
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Think of this as travel writing of the highest order. A rough journey for mankind becomes a stimulating armchair adventure for the reader. This is big history, framed by big ideas but anchored in the very recent explosion of knowledge about climate through the ages and about our history and prehistory. Brooke skillfully navigates the interpretive hazards of proxy paleoclimate data. In Brooke's persuasive account, our evolution to modernity is not absolutely determined by climate and disease, but it has been substantially influenced by them. Our new knowledge shows that quite often these influences abruptly change course, and Brooke shows that much of our history is a consequence of societies scrambling to adjust.' Mark A. Cane, G. Unger Vetlesen Professor of Earth and Climate Sciences, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University

    'John Brooke skillfully joins a vast scientific literature to the historiography of virtually every major region to argue that climatic shifts always have been the primary agency determining the pace and direction of human development. He thus offers an unprecedentedly coordinated global chronology as well as a nuanced, distinctly original understanding of the relation between endogenous and exogenous forces. A jaw-dropping tour de force.' Victor Lieberman, Raoul Wallenberg Distinguished University Professor of History, University of Michigan

    'Readers with advanced degrees in meteorology, archaeology, economics and world environmental history will easily comprehend Brooke's magisterial survey-synthesis. For others, it poses an interesting challenge. The author's mastery and referencing of the vast technical literature in different disciplines is remarkable. … The author also explains seven phases of climate history since 3000 BCE and three industrial revolutions. The consequence is a fundamental change from a lightly populated world controlled by nature to a heavily populated world controlled by both nature and human agency. Summing up: highly recommended.' F. N. Egerton, Choice

    '… a wide-ranging work starting with our pre-human and early human ancestor and ending with a consideration of future trajectories … One of the reviews on the back cover has called it 'a jaw-dropping tour de force'; spanning, as it does, millennia and continents, it is hard to argue with that conclusion.' Carleton Jones, The Journal of Irish Archaeology

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2014
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521692182
    • length: 648 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 x 36 mm
    • weight: 0.86kg
    • contains: 49 b/w illus. 3 maps 7 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: growth, punctuation, and human well-being
    Part I. Evolution and Earth Systems:
    1. The court jester on the platform of life
    2. Human emergences
    Part II. Domestication, Agriculture, and the Rise of the State:
    3. Agricultural revolutions
    4. The Mid-Holocene and the urban-state revolution
    5. Human well-being from the Pleistocene to the rise of the state
    Part III. Ancient and Medieval Agrarian Societies:
    6. Stasis and growth in the epoch of agrarian empires
    7. Optimum and crisis in early civilization, 3000–500 BC
    8. A global antiquity, 500 BC–AD 542
    9. The global dark and middle ages, AD 542–AD 1350
    Part IV. Into the Modern Condition:
    10. Climate, demography, economy, and polity in the late medieval-early modern world, 1350–1700
    11. Global transformations: atlantic origins, 1700–1870
    12. Launching modern growth:
    1870 to 1945
    13. Growth beyond limits:
    1945 to present
    Coda. A rough journey into an uncertain future.

  • Author

    John L. Brooke, Ohio State University
    John L. Brooke is Humanities Distinguished Professor of History at Ohio State University, where he also directs the Center for Historical Research. His books include Columbia Rising: Civil Life on the Upper Hudson from the Revolution to the Age of Jackson (2010), which won the Best Book Prize from the Society of the Historians of the Early American Republic; The Heart of the Commonwealth: Society and Political Culture in Worcester County Massachusetts, 1713–1861 (Cambridge, 1994), which won the Merle Curti Award for Intellectual History from the Organization of American Historians; and The Refiner's Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644–1844 (Cambridge, 1989), which won the Bancroft Prize for American History. He has held fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the American Antiquarian Society and the Harvard Charles Warren Center.

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