Books  General Natural History  Environmental History 

Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe 900-1900

Series: Studies in Environment and History

By: Alfred W Crosby (Author)

368 pages, Maps

Cambridge University Press

This item has a replacement

Ecological Imperialism

Has been reprinted, unmodified, in 2015 as a cheaper edition in the Canto Classics series.

NHBS Price: £12.99 $16/€15 approx
Paperback | Mar 2004 | Edition: 2 | #147558 | ISBN: 0521546184
Temporarily out of stock: order now to get this when available Details
NHBS Price: £22.99 $28/€26 approx
Hardback | Mar 2004 | Edition: 2 | #211598 | ISBN: 0521837324
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About this book

People of European descent form the bulk of the population in most of the temperate zones of the world – North America, Australia and New Zealand. The military successes of European imperialism are easy to explain; in many cases they were a matter of firearms against spears. But, as Alfred Crosby maintains in this highly original and fascinating book, the Europeans' displacement and replacement of the native peoples in the temperate zones was more a matter of biology than of military conquest. European organisms had certain decisive advantages over their New World and Australian counterparts. The spread of European disease, flora, and fauna went hand in hand with the growth of populations. Consequently, these imperialists became proprietors of the world's most important agricultural lands. Now in a new edition with a new preface, Crosby revisits his now-classic work and again evaluates the global historical importance of European ecological expansion.

"There are not too many books on historical ecology, and this is a good one [...] The book is important, and required reading for politicians worldwide."
– The Guardian

"In telling his very readable story, Mr Crosby combines a historian's taste for colorful detail with a scientist's hunger for unifying and testable generalization [...] [He] shows that there is more to history than kings and battles, and more to ecology than fruits and nuts."
– The Wall Street Journal

"Crosby argues his case with vigour, authority, and panache, summoning up examples and illustrations that are often as startling in their character as in their implications. Ecological Imperialism could not ask for a more lucid and stylish exponent."
– The Times Literary Supplement

"The biological bases of radically changing historical ecosystems must never be forgotten – and Crosby has made them intelligible as well as memorable."
– Natural History

"The book is important, and required reading for politicians worldwide [...] Nuclear war may be spectacular and a valid focus for our exertions, but ecological insouciance is even more dangerous because it is unspectacular, and it merits efforts to combat it as strenuous and urgent."
– The Guardian

"Crosby has unfolded with great power the wider biopolitics of our civilization."
– Nature


1. Prologue
2. Pangaea revisited, the Neolithic reconsidered
3. The Norse and the Crusaders
4. The Fortunate Isles
5. Winds
6. Within reach, beyond grasp
7. Weeds
8. Animals
9. Ills
10. New Zealand
11. Explanations
12. Conclusion

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Alfred W. Crosby is a Professor Emeritus in American Studies, History and Geography at the University of Texas at Austin, where he taught for over 20 years. His previous books include America's Forgotten Pandemic: The Influenza of 1918 (2nd Edition, Cambridge, 2003), Throwing Fire: Projectile Technology Through History (Cambridge, 2002), The Measure of Reality: Quantification and Western Society, 1250-1600 (Cambridge, 1997). The Measure of Reality was chosen by the Los Angeles Times as one of the 100 most important books of 1997.

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