Forces of Change: An Unorthodox View of History

Henry Hobhouse, Author
Henry Hobhouse, Author Arcade Publishing $22.95 (264p) ISBN 978-1-55970-087-0
Reviewed on: 05/01/1990
Release date: 05/01/1990
Cortes set forth from Spain in 1518 with some 30 horses. Multiplying in Mexico and Texas, horses altered the plains' ecology and turned many once-agricultural Indians into hunters who followed buffalo all year long. This switch, suggests Hobhouse ( Seeds of Change ), precipitated whites' deliberate extermination of the buffalo herds, sealing the fate of Indians and buffalo. This maverick history of the past five centuries comprises a mixture of insight, speculation and oversimplification. Hobhouse's main thesis is that the dynamics of population growth, disease and food supply shape the course of history. He throws sharp light on the effects of the bubonic plague on pre-modern Europe, and on disease (smallpox, influenza, measles, etc.) as an ``agent of imperialism'' that decimated native peoples with whom whites came in contact. Japan's 200-year isolation, he argues, saved the country from European domination and made possible a modern resurgence. Hobhouse's closing futurist scenario embraces recycling, environmental cleanup, nuclear fusion and genetic engineering. (May)
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