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Evolutionary History Uniting History and Biology to Understand Life on Earth by Edmund Russell

Evolutionary History Uniting History and Biology to Understand Life on Earth

Part of the Studies in Environment and History Series


Evolutionary History Uniting History and Biology to Understand Life on Earth by Edmund Russell

We tend to see history and evolution springing from separate roots, one grounded in the human world and the other in the natural world. Human beings have, however, become probably the most powerful species shaping evolution today, and human-caused evolution in other species has probably been the most important force shaping human history. This book introduces readers to evolutionary history, a new field that unites history and biology to create a fuller understanding of the past than either can produce on its own. Evolutionary history can stimulate surprising new hypotheses for any field of history and evolutionary biology. How many art historians would have guessed that sculpture encouraged the evolution of tuskless elephants? How many biologists would have predicted that human poverty would accelerate animal evolution? How many military historians would have suspected that plant evolution would convert a counter-insurgency strategy into a rebel subsidy? With examples from around the globe, this book will help readers see the broadest patterns of history and the details of their own life in a new light.


'This is not a traditional monograph. Instead, Evolutionary History reads like a well-written how-to manual. And in this case, the instruction is how to enlarge the scope of historical study to include evolutionary processes. Too often and for too long, scholars have held that human history and natural evolution sprung from separate roots and occurred in separate realms. Russell's two-part counter to this illustrates how humans shaped evolution in profound ways and how these changes have, in turn, altered the course of world history.'
Environmental History

About the Author

Edmund Russell is the Hall Distinguished Professor of US History at the University of Kansas. He works primarily in environmental history and the history of technology. He is the author of War and Nature: Fighting Humans and Insects with Chemicals from World War I to Silent Spring (Cambridge University Press, 2001), and co-editor, with Richard Tucker, of Natural Enemy, Natural Ally: Toward an Environmental History of War (2004). Russell's work has won the Edelstein Prize of the Society for the History of Technology, the Rachel Carson Prize, and the Leopold-Hidy Prize of the American Society for Environmental History and the Forum for the History of Science in America.

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Book Info

Publication date

11th April 2011


Edmund Russell

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Cambridge University Press


240 pages


Historical geography



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