Late Victorian Holocausts: El Nino Famines and the Making of the Third World

Late Victorian Holocausts: El Nino Famines and the Making of the Third World

by Mike Davis


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Bestselling, magisterial melding of global environmental history and global political history. Winner of the World History Association Book Award.

Examining a series of El Niño-induced droughts and the famines that they spawned around the globe in the last third of the 19th century, Mike Davis discloses the intimate, baleful relationship between imperial arrogance and natural incident that combined to produce some of the worst tragedies in human history.

Late Victorian Holocausts focuses on three zones of drought and subsequent famine: India, Northern China; and Northeastern Brazil. All were affected by the same global climatic factors that caused massive crop failures, and all experienced brutal famines that decimated local populations. But the effects of drought were magnified in each case because of singularly destructive policies promulgated by different ruling elites.

Davis argues that the seeds of underdevelopment in what later became known as the Third World were sown in this era of High Imperialism, as the price for capitalist modernization was paid in the currency of millions of peasants’ lives.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781784786625
Publisher: Verso Books
Publication date: 01/17/2017
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 471,258
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.70(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Mike Davis is the author of several books including City of Quartz, The Monster at Our Door, Buda’s Wagon, and Planet of Slums. He is the recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship and the Lannan Literary Award. He lives in San Diego.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements ix

Preface 1

A Note on Definitions 19

Part I The Great Drought, 1876-1878 27

1 Victoria's Ghosts 29

2 'The Poor Eat Their Homes' 67

3 Gunboats and Messiahs 99

Part II El Niño and the New Imperialism, 1888-1902 125

4 The Government of Hell 127

5 Skeletons at the Feast 151

6 Millenarian Revolutions 187

Part III Deciphering ENSO 223

7 The Mystery of the Monsoons 225

8 Climates of Hunger 253

Part IV The Political Ecology of Famine 293

9 The Origins of the Third World 295

10 India: The Modernization of Poverty 329

11 China: Mandates Revoked 361

12 Brazil: Race and Capital in the Nordeste 397

Glossary 415

Notes 419

Index 463

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