- Macat Library
An Analysis of Alfred W. Crosby's the Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492
- Joshua Specht
- Macat Library
- 7.8 X 5.08 X 0.18 inches
- 0.2 pounds
- History > General
One criticism of history is that historians all too often study it in isolation, failing to take advantage of models and evidence from scholars in other disciplines. This is not a charge that can be laid at the door of Alfred Crosby. His book The Columbian Exchange not only incorporates the results of wide reading in the hard sciences, anthropology and geography, but also stands as one of the foundation stones of the study of environmental history.
In this sense, Crosby's defining work is undoubtedly a fine example of the critical thinking skill of creativity; it comes up with new connections that explain the European success in colonizing the New World more as the product of biological catastrophe (in the shape of the introduction of new diseases) than of the actions of men, and posits that the most important consequences were not political - the establishment of new empires - but cultural and culinary; the population of China tripled, for example, as the result of the introduction of new world crops. Few new hypotheses have proved as stimulating or influential.
Joshua Specht is an environmental and business historian of the United States. His first book, Red Meat Republic: A Hoof-to-Table History of How Beef Changed America (Princeton University Press, 2019) explores how American rich and poor came to expect affordable high-quality fresh beef. The book further outlines the human and environmental costs of this abundance.
He has also written on the evolutionary history of the Texas longhorn, the rise and fall of western boomtowns, the field of commodity history, and questions of pedagogy. His current work examines politics and institutions in nineteenth-century America through the lens of political-ecology.
Source: University of Notre Dame
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