Forces of Change: An Unorthodox View of History

Overview

There are few books that have the insight and power to change the way we think. Forces of Change is one. In this updated edition, Henry Hobhouse argues provocatively, and most convincingly, that modern history has been shaped less by the actions of human beings than by three natural forces: population growth, food supply, and disease. Together they form a self-balancing triangle: any change in the dimension of one side, Hobhouse shows, is and must be matched by changes in one or both of the other sides. Using key...
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Overview

There are few books that have the insight and power to change the way we think. Forces of Change is one. In this updated edition, Henry Hobhouse argues provocatively, and most convincingly, that modern history has been shaped less by the actions of human beings than by three natural forces: population growth, food supply, and disease. Together they form a self-balancing triangle: any change in the dimension of one side, Hobhouse shows, is and must be matched by changes in one or both of the other sides. Using key examples from the history of the past five hundred years, the author opens our eyes to new possibilities, so that history as learned from our textbooks takes on a whole new light.

As original as it is ambitious, Forces of Change examines history from the time of the Black Plague to the present day, observing in each period and historical situation the relative roles of the three sides of the triangle. The result is a work that is revealing, eloquent, and-despite the seriousness of the subject-always witty and eminently readable.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Cortes set forth from Spain in 1518 with some 30 horses. Multiplying in Mexico and Texas, horses altered the plains' ecology and turned many once-agricultural Indians into hunters who followed buffalo all year long. This switch, suggests Hobhouse ( Seeds of Change ), precipitated whites' deliberate extermination of the buffalo herds, sealing the fate of Indians and buffalo. This maverick history of the past five centuries comprises a mixture of insight, speculation and oversimplification. Hobhouse's main thesis is that the dynamics of population growth, disease and food supply shape the course of history. He throws sharp light on the effects of the bubonic plague on pre-modern Europe, and on disease (smallpox, influenza, measles, etc.) as an ``agent of imperialism'' that decimated native peoples with whom whites came in contact. Japan's 200-year isolation, he argues, saved the country from European domination and made possible a modern resurgence. Hobhouse's closing futurist scenario embraces recycling, environmental cleanup, nuclear fusion and genetic engineering. (May)
Library Journal
Students of the world ecosystem, as well as those of comparative world history during the last 500 years, will find this cleverly written survey informative and provocative. It is a discussion of the Malthusian proposition that humankind always multiplies faster than the available food supply, but population is held in check by disease, war, and natural disaster. Based on wide reading, rich in interesting material drawn from all parts of the globe, the book explores the question as to how countries have solved the problem of equitable food supply. Since others have tackled this problem, the book is not so ``unorthodox''; Hobhouse's tendency to measure everything against the standard of English development is very insular. Yet, the questions resulting from the fourfold increase in world population in the last century and the massive threats to the environment posed by the greenhouse effect, acid rain, etc., deserve the informed attention this study offers.-- Bennett D. Hill, Georgetown Univ., Washington, D.C.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593760755
  • Publisher: Counterpoint Press
  • Publication date: 9/9/2005
  • Pages: 310
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

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