Evolutionary History: Uniting History and Biology to Understand Life on Earth

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Russell has written an excellent, absorbing book about a relatively new scholarship paradigm, evolutionary history. The author's research in history and biology make him uniquely qualified to provide a fresh perspective on melding these two seemingly disparate disciplines. Via such an interdisciplinary approach, Russell promotes a more comprehensive and accurate understanding of the past and present. Highly recommended."
J.N. Muzio, Choice Magazine

"Russell has written an excellent, absorbing book about a relatively new scholarship paradigm, evolutionary history. Highly recommended." -Choice

"... accessible and engagingly written, thoughtful, and thought-provoking... Written in a manner that will make it attractive to scholars and students alike, it will force perceptive readers to re-examine their fields. History, and especially the histories of technology and the environment, surely benefit from the insights of biology and evolution." — Stephen H. Cutliffe, American Historical Review

"...an engaging case for 'evolutionary history...' -Henry Nicholls, Galapagos Matters

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Edmund Russell is a Professor in the Department of Science, Technology and Society and the Department of History at the University of Virginia. 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). He also co-edited, with Richard Tucker, 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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Table of Contents

1. Matters of life and death; 2. Evolution's visible hands; 3. Hunting and fishing; 4. Eradication; 5. Altering environments; 6. Evolution revolution; 7. Intentional evolution; 8. Co-evolution; 9. Evolution of the industrial revolution; 10. History of technology; 11. Environmental history; 12. Conclusion; Glossary.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 7, 2012

    Beautifully written exploration of science and history

    The impacts of human society on the evolution of other species, and vice versa, are explored here with admirable clarity. From the domestication of dogs to the overfishing of Atlantic waters to the ways that overuse of antibiotics has created drug-resistant "superbugs", this book weaves together the back-and-forth of human impacts on other species, and our society's responses to those changes.

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