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American Pests: The Losing War on Insects from Colonial Times to DDT Hardcover – June 17, 2008
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[A] colorful chronicle of pest management in the United States... As well written as it is thorough. (Publishers Weekly)
[McWilliams] knows how to address unusual historical topics in rich detail... Poignant... Thorough... Recommended. (Library Journal)
"[An] articulate, well-organized... excellent primer. (Irene Wanner Seattle Times)
[McWilliams'] book should resonate in these times of GM temptations and global food shortages. (Times Literary Supplement)
Highly recommended. (Choice)
a solid contribution to U.S. environmental history, one that is refreshingly ambitious in its chronological scope. (Sarah T. Phillips American Historical Review)
An engaging and important book. (David Kinkela Technology and Culture)
...a rewarding read... (Joshua B. Buhs Journal of Southern History)
About the Author
James E. McWilliams is an associate professor of history at Texas State University-San Marcos and a recent fellow in the Agrarian Studies Program at Yale University. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Washington Post, among other publications, and he is the author of A Revolution in Eating: How the Quest for Food Shaped America and Building the Bay Colony: Local Economy and Society in Early Massachusetts.
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The book begins with Colonial America through to the present(almost). The book haphazardly jumps through American history, with no clear breaks. The chapter headings often have little to do with chronology, and are rather broken off arbitrarily. The writing is at times terse, and at times focuses on the mundane. Providing details is fine, but why so randomly? It is no surprise that this book was published by a university printing house, as I feel that a more mainstream publisher would have forced dramatic changes in the book (assuming they'd print something on this topic in any situation). The author is an academic historian, and the book appears at times more for the consumption of historians than the popular reader.
The coverage is also uneven. The post-WWII years are not really covered much. Shockingly, the GMO situation is not mentioned.
In the end, this book really could have used a better editor (I don't know if it had one at all this time), and it needed to be another 100 pages or so longer to be thorough enough. For lack of a better alternative, I recommend this book to anyone interested in this subject.