Books  General Natural History  Environmental History 

Mao's War Against Nature: Politics and the Environment in Revolutionary China

  • The great untold story of the Mao years
  • A detailed portrait of the politics of environmental degradation from the bottom up
  • Relevant not only for those interested in China but for those concerned about global environmental issues

Series: Studies in Environment and History

By: Judith Shapiro(Author)

287 pages, b/w photos, illustrations, maps

Cambridge University Press

Paperback | Jun 2001 | #117615 | ISBN: 0521786800
Availability: Usually dispatched within 5 days Details
NHBS Price: £24.99 $33/€28 approx
Hardback | Jun 2001 | #117614 | ISBN: 0521781507
Availability: Usually dispatched within 5 days Details
NHBS Price: £66.99 $89/€75 approx

About this book

Judith Shapiro, in clear and compelling prose, relates the great, untold story of the devastating impact of Chinese politics on China's environment during the Mao years. Maoist China provides an example of extreme human interference in the natural world in an era in which human relationships were also unusually distorted. Under Mao, the traditional Chinese ideal of 'harmony between heaven and humans' was abrogated in favor of Mao's insistence that 'People Will Conquer Nature'. Mao and the Chinese Communist Party's 'war' to bend the physical world to human will often had disastrous consequences both for human beings and the natural environment. Mao's War Against Nature argues that the abuse of people and the abuse of nature are often linked. Shapiro's account, told in part through the voices of average Chinese citizens and officials who lived through and participated in some of the destructive campaigns, is both eye-opening and heartbreaking.

"Shapiro's well-written book [...] tells a shocking story that needs to be told."
- Crispin Tickell, Nature

"Shapiro is a gifted storyteller, and the book is a fascinating read [...] a must-read for anyone interested in understanding not only all that the Chinese people have endured in their recent past but also how those turbulent times shape the current environment and future possibilities."
- Elizabeth Economy,

"Both for readers interested in China's past and for those concerned about its future, the story Shapiro tells is a valuable account of Mao's regime – one of the last century's most tragic episodes."
- Natural History

"[...] this illuminating book makes an important contribution to assessing the enormous damage done between the Communist takeover in 1949 and Mao's death in 1976. Shapiro is excellent at putting Mao's thought in its historical and cultural context."
- China Review



1. Population, dams and political repression
2. Deforestation, famine, and utopian urgency
3. Grainfields in lakes and dogmatic uniformity
4. War preparations and forcible relocations
5. The legacy

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