Global Crisis: War, Climate Change & Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century

Geoffrey Parker. Yale Univ., $40 (850p) ISBN 978-0-300-15323-1
Historian and professor Parker (The Cambridge Illustrated History of Warfare) presents a history of the 17th century that, given its bulk, must surely be the last word on the subject. Focusing on climate-driven unrest around the world, Parker illustrates how events such as drought can drive disease, war, and social change. He cites hundreds of sources dating from that period to the present, including letters, journals, petitions, and published books and articles, though he provides little insight into the accuracy of various sources on specifics like weather data from the 1600s. With a mere 2-degree Celsius change causing significant changes in rice harvests, it is easy to see how the lessons of the past may be relevant today, though Parker reserves commentary on the modern climate for the epilogue. He traces connections between climate and population and war, factors further influencing attitudes toward education and consumption. Few stones are left unturned, from how successful years created agricultural specialists in Germany; to how weather events impacted the Ottoman tragedy; to the roles women played during times of unrest in Europe, India, and China. Parker provides a perceptive but overwhelmingly thorough review of this historical period. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/29/2013
Release date: 04/01/2013
Open Ebook - 672 pages - 978-0-300-18919-3
Paperback - 871 pages - 978-0-300-20863-4
Paperback - 672 pages - 978-0-300-21936-4
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