Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations - PDF

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					                                                                                                        doi:10.3763/ijas.2009.r9007




Book review

Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations
David R. Montgomery
University of California Press (2007 hbk). 295 pp. 0520248708 (2008 pbk)

Reviewed by Cornelia Butler Flora

David Montgomery, a geomorphologist, was                           on reproducing and selling the African-American
awarded a MacArthur Foundation 2008 award, in                      slave labour force. The ‘wearing out’ of previously
part for the kind of research and presentation that                fertile farmland and the desire for profit by the
he displays in this book.                                          internal US slave trade required constant westward
   Dirt could be classified among the eco-tragedies,                movement of monoculture and the institution of
yet Montgomery believes that there are alternatives                slavery.
and, in his later chapters, cites work on sustainable                 His treatment of Europe and North America is
agricultural systems that conserve and replenish                   excellent and he also brings in analyses of Southern
soils.                                                             countries, including the Maya, the Inca (who he
   Montgomery takes a historical focus on soil and                 cites as a positive example of social organization
how it has been perceived and acted towards over                   resulting in soil protection), the Philippines and
time. He demonstrates that from the beginning of                   the Amazon. He is appalled at how the New
recorded history there were individuals who under-                 World so easily emulated the Old World’s mistakes,
stood the formation and destruction of soils and                   and shows how voices for alternatives are ignored in
attempted to change how humans treated soil. And                   Amazon development and in China.
he shows how political, economic and intellectual                    
				
DOCUMENT INFO
Description: The ?wearing out? of previously fertile farmland and the desire for profit by the internal US slave trade required constant westward movement of monoculture and the institution of slavery.
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