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"One of those rare books that’s both sweeping and specific, scholarly and readable…What makes the book stand out is its wealth of historical detail." —Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker
The history of the twentieth century is most often told through its world wars, the rise and fall of communism, or its economic upheavals. In his startling book, J. R. McNeill gives us our first general account of what may prove to be the most significant dimension of the twentieth century: its environmental history. To a degree unprecedented in human history, we have refashioned the earth's air, water, and soil, and the biosphere of which we are a part. Based on exhaustive research, McNeill's story—a compelling blend of anecdotes, data, and shrewd analysis—never preaches: it is our definitive account.
This is a volume in The Global Century Series (general editor, Paul Kennedy).
"Refreshingly unpolemical and at times even witty, McNeill's book brims with carefully sifted statistics and brilliant details." — Washington Post
"A monumental, important, and timely work of interdisciplinary scholarship, written to be accessible to anyone interested in the relationship between our species and the planet that supports us." — Chris Lavers, The Guardian
"This scientifically informed survey makes a useful resource for environmentalists, scholars, globalists, biologists, policy makers and concerned readers." — Publishers Weekly
Winner — World History Association Bentley Book Prize, 2001