This book aims to demonstrate that the changing relationship between humanity and nature is key to understanding world history. Humans have been grappling with environmental problems since prehistoric times, and the environmental unsustainability of human practices has often been a decisive, if t immediately evident, shaping factor in history. The measures that societies and states have adopted to stabilize the relationship between humans and the natural world have repeatedly contributed to environmental crises over the course of history. Nature and Power traces the expanding scope of environmental action: from initiatives undertaken by individual villages and cities, environmental policy has become a global concern. Efforts to steer human use of nature and natural resources have become complicated, as Nature and Power shows, by particularities of culture and by the vagaries of human nature itself. Environmental history, the author argues, is ultimately the history of human hopes and fears.
Joachim Radkau is Associate Professor of History at Universitat Bielefeld in Germany. His books include Deutsche Industrie und Politik von Bismarck bis zur Gegenwart (1974). Holz: Ein Naturstoff in der Technikgeschichte (in collaboration with Ingrid Schafer, 1987), Das Zeitalter der Nervositat: Deutschland zwischen Bismarck und Hitler (1998), and the biography of Max Weber, Die Leidenschaft des Denkens (2005).
Joint winner of World History Association Book Prize 2009.