Hunger: The Biology and Politics of Starvation

Hunger: The Biology and Politics of Starvation

by John R. Butterly, Jack Shepherd

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A timely and provocative look at the role of political developments and the biology of nutrition play in world famineSee more details below


A timely and provocative look at the role of political developments and the biology of nutrition play in world famine

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“When people are subjected to chronic physical hunger, as well as malnutrition, they become more susceptible to disease. According to Butterly and Shepherd, as a result of its effects, chronic hunger becomes the leading cause of death throughout the world. When there are severe food shortages that lead to an actual breakdown of society, we call that ‘famine.’ Ultimately, though there are many causes of starvation or famine (e.g. weather, political conflict or corruption, reliance on a single crop, etc.), Butterly and Shepherd believe that poverty is the underlying cause. The rich rarely starve—except, of course, by choice!”—Psychology Today

“This new look at hunger examines politics and biology in the context of evolution to determine what role they play in world famine. . . . The political perspective is preceded by a fascinating discussion of evidence that indicated our minds have been shaped by the same evolutionary forces as our bodies. The authors argue that seemingly opposite behaviors of aggression and bond forming (or love) are two sides of the same coin that evolved together as successful survival strategies. . . . while this was certainly a successful strategy a millennia ago, the authors argue that just as our technology has advanced to the point that we have actually reversed Darwinism—we modify our environment to meet our needs and not the other way around—our capacity for moral behavior has also advanced beyond the need for a dichotomy based on the other. What emerges from this study is the compelling argument that our biological processes are inextricably linked with our social and political behavior.”—National Catholic Reporter

“Butterly refers to a ‘paradigm shift’ to the idea of a right to food, and explores the interaction of starvation and poverty. The authors go to extraordinary lengths to offer clear definitions and explanations. . . . Essential.”—Choice

“Authors John Butterly and Jack Shepherd advance a most interesting perspective on the biological basis for individual and political behavior, a perspective often lacking in any of the political science books covering the behavior of policy-makers. . . . Hunger: The Biology and Politics of Starvation should be required reading for students, researchers, and project implementers with an interest in hunger alleviation, irrespective of their disciplinary background. With an emphasis on the interaction between biology and politics, the authors provide a constructive, evidence-based, and comprehensive analysis of hunger in all its dimensions.”—JAMA, Journal of the American Medical Association

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Product Details

Dartmouth College Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.50(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.50(d)

What People are saying about this

Jeffrey L. Sturchio
“Nothing is more crucial to human survival than the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. In this timely and compelling book, John R. Butterly and Jack Shepherd take readers on an unexpected and illuminating journey through history, biology, economics and politics to understand the causes and consequences of chronic hunger, malnutrition, and starvation. The urgency of the moral question they pose—will poverty and disease continue because we cannot prevent them or because we will not prevent them?—is matched by the acuity of their analysis of the ‘lessons not yet learned’ from famines in the past. Hunger is essential reading for everyone concerned about food security, poverty, and social justice in our globalizing world.”
C. Everett Koop
“I absolutely loved this book. It weaves history, politics, and science in a way that makes for a spellbinding story of why hunger is so prevalent and—as the authors say—one of our silent emergencies. The book clearly shows why learning the biochemistry and physiology of nutrition is so important. I suggest this be required reading for every developing health professional and food policy maker. The authors’ rational solutions to this huge issue will have profound impact on future policy. I congratulate them on the clarity of their approach to this important and too ‘silent topic’.”

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