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Environmental Histories of the Cold War

  • Wide range of perspectives: diplomatic, social, transnational
  • First book to connect the Cold War and the environment
  • Integration of environmental history, history of science, and international history

Series: Publications of the German Historical Institute

By: John R McNeill(Editor), Corinna R Unger(Editor)

376 pages, 10 b/w illustrations, 1 map, 2 tables

Cambridge University Press

Paperback | Aug 2013 | #206630 | ISBN-13: 9781107694354
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £23.99 $31/€27 approx
Hardback | Jun 2010 | #206631 | ISBN-13: 9780521762441
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £66.99 $85/€75 approx

About this book

Environmental Histories of the Cold War explores the links between the Cold War and the global environment, ranging from the environmental impacts of nuclear weapons to the political repercussions of environmentalism. Environmental change accelerated sharply during the Cold War years, and so did environmentalism as both a popular movement and a scientific preoccupation. Most Cold War history entirely overlooks this rise of environmentalism and the crescendo of environmental change.

These historical subjects were not only simultaneous but also linked together in ways both straightforward and surprising. The contributors to Environmental Histories of the Cold War present these connected issues as a global phenomenon, with chapters concerning China, the USSR, Europe, North America, Oceania, and elsewhere. The role of experts as agents and advocates of using the environment as a weapon in the Cold War or, contrastingly, of preventing environmental damage resulting from Cold War politics is also given broad attention in Environmental Histories of the Cold War.


Introduction: the big picture John R. McNeill and Corinna R. Unger

Part I. Science and Planning:
1. War on nature as part of the Cold War: the strategic and ideological roots of environmental degradation in the USSR Paul Josephson
2. Creating Cold War climates: the laboratories of American globalism Matthew Farish
3. A global contamination zone: early Cold War planning for environmental warfare Jacob Darwin Hamblin
4. Environmental diplomacy in the Cold War: weather control, the United States, and India, 1966–1967 Kristine Harper and Ronald E. Doel
5. Containing communism by impounding rivers: American strategic interests and the global spread of high dams in the early Cold War Richard Tucker

Part II. Geopolitics and the Environment:
6. Environmental impacts of nuclear testing in remote Oceania: 1946–96 Mark D. Merlin and Ricardo M. Gonzalez
7. A curtain of silence: Asia's fauna in the Cold War Greg Bankoff
8. Against protocol: ecocide, détente, and the question of chemical warfare in Vietnam, 1969–75 David Zierler
9. Environmental crisis and soft politics: détente and the global environment, 1968–75 Kai Hünemörder

Part III. Environmentalisms:
10. The new ecology of power: Julian and Aldous Huxley in the Cold War era R. Samuel Deese
11. Atmospheric nuclear weapons testing and the debate on risk knowledge in Cold War America, 1945–63 Toshihiro Higuchi
12. The evolution of environmental problems and environmental policy in China: interaction of internalization and externalization Bao Maohong

Part IV. Epilogue:
13. The end of the Cold War: a turning point in environmental history? Frank Uekoetter.

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J. R. McNeill has taught at Georgetown University since 1985 as Professor of History, as well as being holder of the Cinco Hermanos Chair in Environmental and International Affairs and University Professor. His books include The Mountains of the Mediterranean World (Cambridge, 1992), Something New Under the Sun (2000), The Human Web (2003), and Mosquito Empires (Cambridge, 2010).

Corinna R. Unger received her PhD in History from the University of Freiburg, Germany, in 2005 and joined the German Historical Institute in Washington, DC, as a research Fellow the same year. She is currently working on a study titled Modernization in Theory and Practice: American and German Aid to India, 1947-1980. Her books include Ostforschung in Westdeutschland (2007) and Reise ohne Wiederkehr (2009).

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