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Alfred Crosby – Books and Interviews

October 31, 2011

I am currently reading two books by Alfred Crosby:

Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900 – 1900

The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492

I highly recommend either of the titles listed above for anyone interested in human migration and subsequent consequences. Crosby explains how the world we inhabit today has been shaped by people through their advertent and inadvertent spread of plants, animals, insects, disease, and land management practices… Although, on purely objective terms I see this as being the Biography, or, Cultural Ecology of a super-parasite: Homo sapiens.


Here are links to a few video interviews/lectures by Alfred Crosby followed by a list of books by the author (in chronological order), and a short Biography on A. Crosby (extracted from Wikipedia):

Here’s an interview with Alfred Crosby from PBS speaking on the subject of his book Epidemic and Peace 1918: America’s Forgotten Pandemic.

A lecture by Alfred Crosby reading from his book Throwing Fire: Projectile Technology Through History, and explores how the global environment can be radically altered by collective human behaviors. “Crosby asks important questions about the conditions of life on our planet, exploring the tremendous capacity humans have to adapt to the variability of those conditions. His recent book, Throwing Fire: Projectile Technology Through History, looks at fire and the fast ball as two key steps in human development.



Children of the Sun: A History o Humanity’s Unappeasable Appetite for Energy. W.W. Norton 2006. Available in Chinese and Korean translations.

Throwing Fire: Projectile Technology Through History. Cambridge
University Press 2002. Available in Turkish and Japanese translations.

The Measure of Reality: Quantification and Western Society, 1250-1600.
Cambridge University Press 1997. Available in Spanish, Portuguese,
French, Italian, Swedish, Japanese, and Korean translations.

Germs, Seeds, and Animals: Studies in Ecological History. M. E. Sharpe

America’s Forgotten Pandemic: The Influenza of 1918. Cambridge
University Press 1989, 2003. Originally published as Epidemic and
Peace, 1918. Available in Japanese translation.

Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900-1900.
Cambridge University Press 1986, 1993, 2004. Available in German,
Swedish, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Polish, Greek, Turkish, Chinese,
Japanese, and Korean translations.

Epidemic and Peace, 1918. Greenwood Press 1976. Republished as
America’s Forgotten Pandemic.

The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492.
Greenwood Press 1972, Praeger Publishers 2003. Available in Spanish,
Italian, and Korean translations.

America, Russia, Hemp, and Napoleon: American Trade with Russia and the
Baltic, 1793-1812
. Ohio State University Press 1965.


Alfred W. Crosby (b. 15 Jan 1931, Boston, Massachusetts) is a historian, professor and author of such books as The Columbian Exchange (1972) and Ecological Imperialism (1986). In these works, he provides biological and geographical explanations for why Europeans were able to succeed with relative ease in what he refers to as the Neo-Europes of Australasia, North America, and southern South America.

Recognizing the majority of modern day wealth is located in Europe and the Neo-Europes, Crosby set out to investigate what historical causes are behind the disparity. According to Hal Rothman, a Professor of History at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Crosby “added biology to the process of human exploration, coming up with explanations for events as diverse as Cortez’s conquest of Mexico and the fall of the Inca empire that made vital use of the physical essence of humanity.”.[1]

Jared Diamond, author of Guns, Germs, and Steel, has reached similar conclusions about the role of biology and ecology in human history.

Crosby is Professor Emeritus of History, Geography, and American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. He has taught at Washington State University, Yale University, the Alexander Turnbull Library in New Zealand, and the University of Helsinki. He was appointed an academician by Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari.


One Comment leave one →
  1. November 13, 2011 10:08:01 pm

    Great books, thanks for sharing. Here is another one to enjoy-
    ASHLEY, Sir William. The Bread of our Forefathers: An Inquiry in Economic History
    On average the English once consumed two pounds of bread each day.

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