The Face of the Earth: Environment and World History, the twentieth title in the series Sources and Studies in World History, inaugurates a minseries of collected essays on important topics in world history. Inspired in part by a conference of the World History Association, J. Donald Hughes, the editor of this first volume, has selected contributions from a wide range of environmental historians.
Environmental history is an ideal focus for world history. More than states, more than cultures or civilizations, environments are porous and pervasive; air and water and the seeds and germs they carry as passengers fill the world as if it were a vacuum. The atmosphere, the oceans, the resources of the earth form the only common legacy of world history.
Yet, the study of the environment places unusual demands on the historian. He or she must master specialized