The World Hunt: An Environmental History of the Commodification of Animals

The World Hunt: An Environmental History of the Commodification of Animals

The World Hunt: An Environmental History of the Commodification of Animals

The World Hunt: An Environmental History of the Commodification of Animals

Synopsis

Presented here is the final and most coherent section of a sweeping classic work in environmental history, The Unending Frontier. The World Hunt focuses on the commercial hunting of wildlife and its profound global impact on the environment and the early modern world economy. Tracing the massive expansion of the European quest for animal products, The World Hunt explores the fur trade in North America and Russia, cod fishing in the North Atlantic, and whaling and sealing on the world's oceans and coastlands.

Excerpt

Edmund Burke III

John F. Richards was a remarkable scholar of South Asia whose many books and articles have permanently shaped the South Asian field. But for much of his career he was also a world historian and an environmental historian, concerned initially with locating the history of pre-1750 India in a worldhistorical context. in his final book, The Unending Frontier: An Environmental History of the Early Modern World (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), he turned his historical global imagination loose. the result was a remarkable synthetic portrait of the environmental transformations of the (often forgotten) early modern period.

Originally published as part 4 of The Unending Frontier, the World Hunt is a work of major importance and of a stunning historical imagination. It is especially relevant to our time, as growing awareness of species extinctions and climate change rises to the fore. a major focus of this book is the commercial hunting of particular species (fur-bearing animals, fish, whales, and walruses are the ones that Richards examined). Through its bold willingness to go where few historians had dared to go, “The World Hunt” helped launch the field of environmental history into new areas. the growing bibliography of truly exciting historical works in the study of animals and their always problematic relations with humans is one testimony of the correctness of Richards’s instincts.

The field of environmental history started with a close examination of the transformation of regional or even local ecosystems and ecologies at the hand of humans. Only recently has the “think local, act global” imperative at the heart of environmentalist thinking really begun to catch on. the reader of this book will discover just how far a commitment to studying the environment in a global context can take you. The World Hunt makes for both superlative world history and environmental history. Its vivid prose and well-chosen . . .

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