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The Retreat of the Elephants: An Environmental History of China ebook

by Mark Elvin


This is the first environmental history of China during the three thousand years for which there are written records.

This is the first environmental history of China during the three thousand years for which there are written records. He documents the histories of three contrasting localities within China to show how ecological dynamics defined the lives of the inhabitants.

Mark Elvin's book is not really about elephants. The elephants are a symbol for the retreat of nature from China. What the book makes clear is that China's environmental disaster is not a product of the 20th century, but dates back thousands of years when the early dynasties stamped out a culture of hunter-gathering in favor of agriculture and engaged in a deliberate destruction of flora and fauna for economic and political gain

Mark Elvin Tarago, New South Wales and Heidelberg, 2003 Permissions Parts of the following chapters have either appeared in previous . Introductory Remarks This book is an overview of the environmental history of China.

Mark Elvin Tarago, New South Wales and Heidelberg, 2003 Permissions Parts of the following chapters have either appeared in previous publications or have drawn substantially from the material in them: Chapter 5: M. Elvin, The environmental legacy of imperial China. China Quarterly 156. (De., 1998. Also in book form in R. L. Edmonds, e. Managing the Chinese Environment. Oxford University Press: Oxford, 2000. The span covered is about four thousand years, but weighted toward the last thousand.

With this remarkable and important new book, The Retreat of the Elephants: An Environmental History of China, Mark Elvin almost single-handedly creates a new field: Chinese environmental history.

The purpose of environmental history is to probe the nexus between humans and nature (the environment). Like all historical studies, environmental history relies on the critical evaluation of sources, usually but not exclusively the written word

The purpose of environmental history is to probe the nexus between humans and nature (the environment). Like all historical studies, environmental history relies on the critical evaluation of sources, usually but not exclusively the written word. Moran asserts that literary studies and history have had a close but problematic relationship, and this may well be evident in what follows.

This book is an overview of the environmental history of China. Let us be more systematic. At the coarsest focus, there would currently be three main zones of vegetation cover in China if there had been no human interference. The main reason for this is the greater availability of relevant materials for the more recent period. The first is that where there is little or no cover, mostly various kinds of deserts in the Far West.

This landmark book-the first environmental history of China-is based on a wealth of literary, political aesthetic . Mark Elvin's book is not really about elephants.

This landmark book-the first environmental history of China-is based on a wealth of literary, political aesthetic, scientific, and religious sources that reveal th. . What the book makes clear is that China's environmental disaster is not a product of the 20th century, but dates back thousands of years when the early dynasties stamped out a culture of hunter-gathering in favor of agriculture and engaged in a deliberate destruction of flora and fauna for economic and political gain.

Mobile version (beta). The Retreat of the Elephants: An Environmental History of China. Professor Mark Elvin. Download (pdf, . 0 Mb) Donate Read. Epub FB2 mobi txt RTF. Converted file can differ from the original. If possible, download the file in its original format.

Mark Elvin's books often deal with big ideas over large swathes of Chinese history and this book is no exception

Mark Elvin's books often deal with big ideas over large swathes of Chinese history and this book is no exception. The Retreat of the Elephants attempts to describe three millennia of environmental change and environmental ideas in China and to produce conclusions about the nature of Chinese environmental thought as well as experience. It is a masterful tour de force. As such, there is something of interest for everybody.

This is the first environmental history of China during the three thousand years for which there are written records. It is also a treasure trove of literary, political, aesthetic, scientific, and religious sources, which allow the reader direct access to the views and feelings of the Chinese people toward their environment and their landscape.Elvin chronicles the spread of the Chinese style of farming that eliminated the habitat of the elephants that populated the country alongside much of its original wildlife; the destruction of most of the forests; the impact of war on the environmental transformation of the landscape; and the re-engineering of the countryside through water-control systems, some of gigantic size. He documents the histories of three contrasting localities within China to show how ecological dynamics defined the lives of the inhabitants. And he shows that China in the eighteenth century, on the eve of the modern era, was probably more environmentally degraded than northwestern Europe around this time.Indispensable for its new perspective on long-term Chinese history and its explanation of the roots of Chinas present-day environmental crisis, this book opens a door into the Chinese past.
Nalme
Thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated this book! Though I'm politically conservative and very resistant to eco-talk, I found its measured, evidence-based discussion of what the pre-1911 Chinese did to and with their environment and what they thought about it extremely interesting and convincing. And this is not from _schadenfreud_ about non-American troubles: I'm well aware of western US dams silting up, the long-term unsustainability of Los Angeles as to water resources, etc..

The author almost entirely avoids comparison with present-day concerns and other places (except with industrializing Europe at the very end, and Three Gorges comes up once or twice). This was helpful in concentrating the mind on the subject at hand.

Only suggestion for content improvement is a few more illustrations - an old woodcut of peasants transplanting rice, maintaining levees or clearing trees, for example. One BIG recommendation, though, is indexing the notes in the digital version: I often found myself wanting to check a source or comment and it's just about impossible given that notes are numbered serially by chapter but chapter breaks are practically invisible in the end notes.

Highly recommended.
Cala
Mark Elvin's book is not really about elephants. The elephants are a symbol for the retreat of nature from China. What the book makes clear is that China's environmental disaster is not a product of the 20th century, but dates back thousands of years when the early dynasties stamped out a culture of hunter-gathering in favor of agriculture and engaged in a deliberate destruction of flora and fauna for economic and political gain. Early Chinese dynasties were damming rivers and carving away mountains long before Mao tse-tung expounded his theories man conquering nature, the Chinese were damming rivers and carving away rivers. The book is not complimentary of Han Chinese culture's attitudes towards the environment. Elvin makes clear that other ethnic groups had more interest in maintaining harmony between man and nature. The research that went into this book is impressive. Elvin quotes extensively from literary sources and even oracle bones to explore Chinese attitudes towards nature. The book doesn't dwell much on what happened after China's economic boom in the late 20th century, but nonetheless goes a long way towards explaining why the Chinese landscape looks the way it does today.
Anazan
This is a landmark book on environmental history that is well-received by many academics (also check out other reviews on the web). For me personally, this books helps me understand today's China's problems better than many other books I've read.

It maybe a stretch for people that to understand today's China, you need to go back to its 3000 years of environmental history. However, this book offers many potential answers to many questions that are still relevant today - e.g. Is China's growth sustainable? Why Chinese people have such relationships with their government? Where does her seemingly in-exhaustible labor pool come from?

The book illuminates the constant struggles between the Chinese population and her environments throughout her 3000 years of written history, with the Chinese state often being the driving force and the subsequent victim when nature eventually fought back. Many such struggles are still being repeated today - for example, the recent push of China to develop its north-west region resembled the same push Chin/Han dynasties started from 300 BC, which resulted in permanent soil erosions that gave yellow river its name and caused numerous disasters downstreams since. The Three Gorges Dam is an extension to the long running tradition of massive state-sponsored hydro-projects trying to control the river in the name for "growth". The list goes on and on...

History is bound to repeat herself if we ignore her. Hopefully this books will not be ignored.
Umor
One of the most provocative and influential books I have read. Dr. Elvin translates "Oracle bones" The Chinese long view of history
Modred
A good book on Chinese environment
Quttaro
It is very good.
Modigas
I found the book fairly hard-going as the writer is a master of many fields and switches from discipline to discipline quite regularly. It is, however, certainly thought-provoking in relation to many issues about humans and the environment, and the current economic boom in China, taking place in a country that has already over-exploited its resources in an effort to feed its huge population.
The Retreat of the Elephants: An Environmental History of China ebook
Author:
Mark Elvin
Category:
Asia
Subcat:
EPUB size:
1837 kb
FB2 size:
1751 kb
DJVU size:
1294 kb
Language:
Publisher:
Yale University Press; 1st Edition. edition (March 10, 2004)
Pages:
592 pages
Rating:
4.1
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