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By: Brett Walker and William Cronon
352 pages, 40 illus
The Earth's environment is interlaced with complex, constructed ecological pathways that link industrial facilities and human consumers. Nowhere is this truer than on the Japanese archipelago. During the nineteenth century, Japan saw the rise of Homo sapiens industrialis, a new breed of human who was transformed by an engineered, industrialized and poisonous environment. Toxins moved freely through mines, factory sites, and rice paddies and more directly into human bodies.
This book explores the relationship between the causes of colossal toxic pollution and the manner in which pain caused by pollution insults porous human bodies. The author examines startling case studies of industrial toxins that know no boundaries: a killer pollution from insecticide saturations; poisonings from copper, zinc and lead mining; congenital deformities from methyl mercury factory effluents; and lung diseases from sulfur dioxide and asbestos.
This is a fascinating, original, and persuasive book that makes several important contributions to the field of environmental history. With this work Walker further solidifies his position as the leading environmental historian of Japan writing in English. Timothy George, author of Minamata: Pollution and the Struggle for Democracy in Postwar Japan "In this powerful, disturbing new book, Brett Walker turns his attention to the environmental consequences of industrialization in Japan over the past two centuries, focusing especially on toxic pollution and the human suffering it has caused. Toxic Archipelago is a major contribution not just to Japanese environmental history but to the history of industrial pollution worldwide." William Cronon, University of Wisconsin-Madison
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