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An Environmental History of Latin America (New Approaches to the Americas) 1st Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0521612982
ISBN-10: 0521612985
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"For years to come, studies of Latin American environmental history will have to begin with references to Shawn Miller's book." - Alfred W. Crosby, Professor Emeritus of American Studies, History, and Geography, University of Texas at Austin

"Sailing over the last six centuries in just over two hundred pages, Shawn Miller presents readers with a magnificent panorama of the turbulent environmental history of Latin America. Specialists, students, and general readers will all find Miller's pages intellectually intriguing and often entertaining. A delightful book and an important story." - J. R. McNeill, Georgetown University, author of Something New Under the Sun

"Shawn Miller has done us a great favor. He has synthesized the Latin American environmental history literature from the past fifteen years, without leaving earlier works behind, to produce the first general text of its kind. [...] It should find an audience in any classroom tackling the topic. [...] One book cannot cover everything, although this one almost does." - Myrna I. Santiago, Saint Mary's College of California, The Americas

"Shawn William Miller has written a terrific short introduction to the environmental history of Latin America. Engagingly written, carefully researched and just 257 pages long, An Environmental History of Latin America will long be read by anyone interested in environmental studies and the history and anthropology of the lands south of the Rio Grande.... Miller has done a remarkable job of introducing and summarizing a vast number of themes and ideas-the literary equivalent of packing two quarts in a one-quart bottle." - Journal of Latin American Geography

"...An Environmental History of Latin America offers a basic text for undergraduate teaching that is both informative and conversational. Even when Miller veers into speculative arguments, his book provides excellent material for class discussions to engage students and inform their awareness of environmental processes and issues throughout the Americas." - Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History

"A one volume survey, such as Miller's lucid and provocative book, has long been needed." - Richard P. Tucker, The Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"Engagingly written..." - Cynthia Radding, Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History

"Shawn Miller's highly readable and useful survey joins other eminent textbooks published in the series, such as Herbert Klein's on slavery and Susan Socolow's on gender.... Miller's accomplishment is that he corrects surprisingly common misconceptions, many of which still trouble environmentalists, students, and even senior scholars. Insightful revelations abound about pre-Columbian, colonial, and modern Latin American agriculture, beliefs, and urban history." - World History Bulletin

"Miller addresses the key relationship between Latin American environmental history and political and social theory. In doing so, he also contributes in vital ways to the establishment of environmental history as an essential field of knowledge. In fact, Miller's work and the field of environmental history have a lot to offer a variety of disciplines." - Canadian Journal of Latin American & Caribbean Studies

"...exciting and impressive..." -Kieko Matteson, Pacific Circle

Book Description

This book narrates the mutually mortal historical contest between humans and nature in Latin America. Covering a period that begins with Amerindian civilizations and concludes in the region's present urban agglomerations, the work offers an original synthesis of the current scholarship on Latin America's environmental history and argues that tropical nature played a central role in shaping the region's historical development.
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Product Details

  • Series: New Approaches to the Americas
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (August 27, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521612985
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521612982
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #437,000 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
An Environmental History of Latin America is a short, vigorous, engaging introduction to the story of human beings' endeavor, before and after European contact, to survive and thrive in a region that Miller dubs the "Neotropics." Miller ranges widely in time and space, exploring topics as diverse as Mesoamerican farming on chinampas and bicycle commuting in contemporary South America. He is particularly illuminating on the size and complexity of pre-contact Native American civilizations and the puzzling question of how early European explorers overlooked them. The prose is strong and though Miller's tone is occasionally more personal than one expects in an academic work, the effect is engaging, not jarring. All in all, this is a great book, accessible and interesting even to readers who are not experts on Latin America.
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Format: Paperback
This book is excellent. Eminently readable, it moves swiftly but provides impressive depth regarding the topics selected. Those desiring to study in greater depth will be pleased with the lists for further reading, provided in the back. Miller explains the roots of current environmental problems, punctures popular current myths about the ecological past of native peoples, and shows that the survival of civilization has always involved trade-offs, whether in human or environmental terms. Miller is also adept at explaining cultural differences in perception, so that I was easily able to understand the differences. I checked this book out from the library, but I will certainly be buying this for my own shelves. In sum, this is a quick and easy read, but certainly not a light-weight.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I recommend this book for everyone involved with environmental or energy issues in the Americas. In my eyes, the quality of human life depends on the health of the whole biosphere. This book covers Latin America at contact with Europe to current day concerns for the monarch butterfly. Tupi, Aztec and Inca cultures altered the natural environment for subsistence and prestige goods. Miller uses Archaeology, Historical documents, Biology and Geography to keep one absorbed in the flow of reading. Miller writes about the complexities of culture and nature interactions, and the destruction both can cause the other. California's Central Valley has prime agricultural land, but housing and water diversion projects threaten this provider of food. Miller's book is a comprehensive survey of the battle between conspicuous consumption and environmental justice. I have a Bachelor degree in Biology, from the 1970s, and this book entices me to study further in Environmental History.
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Format: Paperback
I found this book browsing the Latin American history section. I really enjoy reading about Latin American history and this book was an interesting perspective on that topic. The environment is a powerful but often overlooked actress in history. Miller elucidates very well the indispensability of nature in shaping Latin American society, even before it was Latin America, but also how both we and the pre-Columbians significantly shaped it. This book is fascinating and presents interesting information and historical anecdotes. The narrative flows on nicely even while jumping from one topic to another. I would recommend it to anyone interested in history, and especially if you've never read any environmental history. Heaven only knows why we don't include the environment in our history lessons! Miller also explores the multiple dimensions involved in the interplay between humanity and the environment, including politics, economics, ideology, as well as art. The book was instrumental in exhibiting the importance in appreciating the dynamic between nature and society as two inseparable things that condition and mold each other and need to be treated with respect. Miller does a few times take a personal tone in the book which felt slightly weird but it's alright. The most important thing about this book, however, is that it motivates me to go out and fight for the environment and repel the maleficent forces of civilization before they annihilate us all.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Spanning the precolonial to modern day, this book provides vignettes from the Caribbean, Middle-America and South America. Very readable with valuable insights.
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