China: Its Environment and History
This deeply informed and beautifully written book provides a comprehensive and comprehensible history of China from prehistory to the present. Focusing on the interaction of humans and their environment, Robert B. Marks traces changes in the physical and cultural world that is home to a quarter of humankind. Through both word and image, this work illuminates the chaos and paradox inherent in China’s environmental narrative, demonstrating how historically sustainable practices can, in fact, be profoundly ecologically unsound. The author also reevaluates China’s traditional “heroic” storyline, highlighting the marginalization of nature that followed the spread of Chinese civilization while examining the development of a distinctly Chinese way of relating to and altering the environment. Unmatched in his ability to synthesize a complex subject clearly and cogently, Marks has written an accessible yet nuanced history for any reader interested in China, past or present. Indeed he argues successfully that all of humanity has a stake in China’s environmental future.
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agriculture animals areas became Cambridge central century Chang’an chapter China’s environmental history Chinese Communists Chinese history cities climate crops cultivation culture dams deforestation degradation dikes Dongting Lake dynasty early east ecological economic ecosystems Elvin emperor empire energy environment environmental change especially farmers farming farmland fertilizer ﬂooding ﬂowing forest frontier Fujian global Grand Canal grasslands Guangdong Han Chinese Han dynasty harvest historians Huai River human Ibid increased industrial Lake land Late Imperial Lingnan loess lower Yangzi Luoyang malaria Manchu military million Ming Mongol mountains natural nomadic North China plain numbers nutrients officials Pearl River delta peasant People’s Republic percent period plants pollution production protection province Qing region rulers Shang Sichuan silt soil Song Song dynasty southwest steppe Tang thousand tigers timber transformed trees University Press vast villages Wei River Xiongnu Yangzi River valley Yellow River York Yunnan Zhou