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

470 pages11 hours


Examining aseries of El Niño-induced droughts and the famines that they spawnedaround the globe in the last third of the 19th century, Mike Davisdiscloses the intimate, baleful relationship between imperial arroganceand natural incident that combined to produce some of the worsttragedies in human history.

Late Victorian Holocaustsfocuses on three zones of drought and subsequent famine: India,Northern China; and Northeastern Brazil. All were affected by the sameglobal climatic factors that caused massive crop failures, and allexperienced brutal famines that decimated local populations. But theeffects of drought were magnified in each case because of singularlydestructive policies promulgated by different ruling elites.

Davisargues that the seeds of underdevelopment in what later became known asthe Third World were sown in this era of High Imperialism, as the pricefor capitalist modernization was paid in the currency of millions ofpeasants’ lives.

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