Famine remains one of the worst calamities that can befall a society. Mass starvation--whether it is inflicted by drought or engineered by misguided or genocidal economic policies--devastates families, weakens the social fabric, and undermines political stability. Cormac Ó Gráda, the acclaimed author who chronicled the tragic Irish famine in books like Black '47 and Beyond, here traces the complete history of famine from the earliest records to today.
Combining powerful storytelling with the latest evidence from economics and history, Ó Gráda explores the causes and profound consequences of famine over the past five millennia, from ancient Egypt to the killing fields of 1970s Cambodia, from the Great Famine of fourteenth-century Europe to the famine in Niger in 2005. He enriches our understanding of the most crucial and far-reaching aspects of famine, including the roles that population pressure, public policy, and human agency play in causing famine; how food markets can mitigate famine or make it worse; famine's long-term demographic consequences; and the successes and failures of globalized disaster relief. Ó Gráda demonstrates the central role famine has played in the economic and political histories of places as different as Ukraine under Stalin, 1940s Bengal, and Mao's China. And he examines the prospects of a world free of famine.
This is the most comprehensive history of famine available, and is required reading for anyone concerned with issues of economic development and world poverty.
"This is why Cormac Ó Gráda's latest book is so surprising. He is an optimist. According to him, famines are becoming less common. Even better: they will probably decline in frequency even further. Is it time to declare famine history? Ó Gráda says 'yes'. This is a thesis not to be lightly dismissed. Ó Gráda is a distinguished economic historian. He is the world's foremost authority on the Irish economy, and has written eloquently on the Great Famine of the late 1840s, in which around one million Irish men and women died. Furthermore, this book is packed with facts, all eloquently presented. Although it is a compact little book with generous margins, it is truly global in nature and spans the period from the beginning of written history to the present."--Joanna Bourke, The Times (UK)
"Cormac Ó Gráda's indelible new book Famine: A Short History emphasizes the symbiotic relationship between famine and a plethora of other social ills, including crime, slavery, infanticide, and prostitution."--Evan R. Goldstein, Chronicle of Higher Education
"Despite its modest title this is an impressive book. . . . Apart from the author's encyclopaedic knowledge, this book is distinguished by its attention to detail, insistence on evidence to back up arguments, and clever structure, which enables the reader to engage easily with cutting-edge arguments about the nature and evolution of famine. It is likely to become the standard academic text on the subject, but its accessible style, clarity and illustrations make it of much wider interest and significance."--Pádraig Carmody, The Irish Times
"This persuasive argument for global development is intricate enough to satisfy policy wonks but written with a larger audience in mind."--Publishers Weekly
"This is an excellent book for any student, researcher, or policy maker interested in famine, food scarcity, or hunger."--Choice
Table of Contents
Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Cormac Ó Gráda: