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Replenishing the Earth: The Settler Revolution and the Rise of the Angloworld, 1783-1939 Hardcover – August 17, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0199297276 ISBN-10: 0199297274

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 573 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (August 17, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199297274
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199297276
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,429,988 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


`A great contribution to large-scale history: constantly sparkling in its style, humorous, and offering profound new insights. A magnificent book.' Jared Diamond, UCLA, Pulitzer-Prize-winning author of the best-sellers Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse

About the Author

James Belich is professor of history at the Stout Research Centre, Victoria University of Wellington. He previously held the inaugural Keith Sinclair Chair in History at the University of Auckland, and has held visiting positions at Cambridge, Melbourne, and Georgetown Universities. His earlier books, all award-winners, include a two volume general history of New Zealand, Making Peoples and Paradise Reforged, and The New Zealand Wars and the Victorian Interpretation of Racial Conflict, winner of the Trevor Reese Prize for an outstanding work of imperial or commonwealth history published in the preceding two years.

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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Brian Sweeney on November 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
With "Replenishing the Earth: The Settler Revolution and the Rise of the Anglo-World, 1783-1939", James Belich emboldens his reputation as New Zealand's leading historian. After 25 years of deeply researching and presenting/re-presenting the emergence of Aotearoa New Zealand and its people, indigenous and colonial, and the relationships and politics of each, he turns his narrative towards the rise of the Anglo-World. He combines a grand sweep with meticulous research and a novelist's eye for lateral detail.

Belich was so successful at challenging received historical wisdom in his first book, "The New Zealand Wars" (1987) that his radical take on the 19th century conflict between the British and the Maori has become today's orthodoxy. However, Belich is not a revisionist for the sake of political correctness or provocation. "The New Zealand Wars", in which he awarded a number of pivotal battles to Maori tribes for the first time in (literally) recorded history, was first and foremost a towering feat of historical research.

Belich is a writer who does not allow the density of the subject matter to heavy his prose. This is his thesis: European settlement of the New World came in three successive waves - networks (especially of trade), empire (through conquest), and settlement; that it amounted to a `settler revolution', characterized by the spectacular growth of Anglophone peoples and culture across the globe; and that the settlers themselves were neither heroic nor especially villainous. Belich spells out how British world colonization involved four phases - incremental, explosive, decolonization, and recolonization - each shaped by identifiable social, political and economic forces.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Rick W on September 19, 2010
Format: Hardcover
A much needed study of the expansion of the English-speaking world in the long 19th century. Pioneers, frontiers, booms, busts, gold rushes, ghost towns, outlaws, natives. This is the stuff that makes up much of the founding mythology of the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. So why oh why has Belich chosen to hide it beneath such an instantly forgettable title? "Replenishing the Earth"? Both overly grandiose and vacuous - what on earth does it mean? "The Settler Revolution and the Rise of the Angloworld"? Using two terms from the author's own jargon pool in a subtitle? What - is it there to explain the title to the author himself?

Quibbles on the title aside, this is an excellent work. Belich covers the world from the late 18th to the mid 20th century in his bid to explain why the English-speaking world exploded in the way it did in both population and prosperity, growing from 16 million in 1783 to 200 million in 1939 while also massively increasing in wealth. This is a phenomenon unequalled in world history and one certainly worth examining. The usually given reasons are the relative emptiness of the frontier, the impact of industrialization, and the rush for resources. However Belich points out that the colonies, despite in some cases having existed for up to two hundred years, never came close to booming 19th century style until after 1815 and that the first booms nonetheless occurred before significant adoption of industrial technology. He also argues that gold and other resource rushes only occurred in proximity to booms and enhanced rather than creating them.

So what caused the booms? While Belich does give credit to expansion room, industrialization, and gold rushes, he believes they are not the full picture.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Phil Hayward on September 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I rate this book as "5 star" even though I want to disagree with one of the author's conclusions. I agree with the 2 reviewers who have preceded me, and will not repeat anything they have said, most usefully, as an assessment of the book. This book establishes Belich as a colossus of historianship. He has presented as near-comprehensive a set of data and observations as one could wish for, so that someone like me who might draw a different conclusion to the author himself, can do so using the author's own work. This is true dispassionate historianship, so Belich absolutely deserves 5 stars.

This is simply one of the most educational books you will ever read. Readers will glean insight after insight about subjects that intersect with the main one. For example, I am extremely passionate about the process of socio-economic, path dependent evolution that leads to developed, urbanised economies and a wide spectrum of different city types - I love the work of Fernand Braudel and Colin Clark and Sir Peter Hall. The "big picture" scholarship that is provided by reading this book, is well worth the effort even if you have a distaste (politically correct civilisation self-loathing!) for the central subject. The economic and socio-economic evolution of urban form is enmeshed with the subject, and I constantly picked up points that I was unaware of.

Belich quotes the famous urbanist Lewis Mumford several times and convincingly refines Mumford's points on things such as the progress of civilisation from the technologies of "eo-technic" to "paleo-technic" to "neo-technic".

Belich says, correctly in my view, that Mumford insuffiently identifies the vast flowering of older technologies as the new ones start to be established - for example, "....
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