The Plough that Broke the Steppes: Agriculture and Environment on Russia's Grasslands, 1700-1914 (Oxford Studies in Modern European History)

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en Limba Engleză Paperback – 09 Oct 2014
This is the first environmental history of Russia's steppes. From the early-eighteenth century, settlers moved to the semi-arid but fertile grasslands from wetter, forested regions in central and northern Russia and Ukraine, and from central Europe. By the late-nineteenth century, they had
turned the steppes into the bread basket of the Russian Empire and parts of Europe. But there was another side to this story. The steppe region was hit by recurring droughts, winds from the east whipped up dust storms, the fertile black earth suffered severe erosion, crops failed, and in the worst
years there was famine.

David Moon analyses how naturalists and scientists came to understand the steppe environment, including the origins of the fertile black earth. He also analyses how scientists tried to understand environmental change, including climate change. Farmers, and the scientists who advised them, tried
different ways to deal with the recurring droughts: planting trees, irrigation, and cultivating the soil. More sustainable, however, were techniques of cultivation to retain scarce moisture in the soil. Among the pioneers were Mennonite settlers. Such approaches aimed to work with the environment,
rather than trying to change it by planting trees or supplying more water artificially.

The story is similar to the Dust Bowl on the Great Plains of the USA, which share a similar environment and environmental history. David Moon places the story of the steppes in the wider context of the environmental history of European colonialism around the globe.

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ISBN-13: 9780198722878
ISBN-10: 0198722877
Pagini: 340
Ilustrații: Four maps and 3 black and white images
Dimensiuni: 157 x 235 x 20 mm
Greutate: 0.52 kg
Editura: Oxford University Press
Colecția OUP Oxford
Seria Oxford Studies in Modern European History

Locul publicării: Oxford, United Kingdom


Rare is the book that casts Russian history in an almost wholly new light.
Moon's book is an extremely important contribution to Russian and environmental histories, and can be used in advanced undergraduate as well as graduate courses.
With this book, David Moon contributes significantly to the environmental history of the Russian and Soviet empires ... The book is thoroughly supported by extensive archival, journal and other research. I recommend it for students of European history, environmental history, Russian history and agricultural history.
The Plough That Broke the Steppes is an important contribution to the global history of grassland ... Moon's work is both immensely readable and scholarly with a broad historical sweep and interdisciplinary scope. He brings life to scholarly, scientific, and practical agricultural debates on the steppes
This stimulating book is the first environmental history of the Russian steppe, a flat plain that stretches from Western Russia to Mongolia, north of the Black and Caspian Seas ... Recommended.
In this impressively researched and compellingly argued book, David Moon elevates this problem of what to do with the fertile yet fragile belt of grasslands in Russia's south to one of the enduring 'cursed questions' of the country's history ... Throughout the book Moon evokes his personal experiences on the steppe. These environmental encounters clearly aided his historical thinking and provide vivid examples for the reader. Coming to know the grasslands themselveshelped him write this insightful and lasting contribution to environmental and imperial Russian history.
In the context of current discussions on the causes of climate change and the search for sustainable forms of agriculture, this work is a credit.
yet another wonderful and ground-breaking book from David Moon ... Throughout, Moon retains a moderate and scientific tone.

Notă biografică

David Moon is a specialist on Russian history. In recent years his research has focused on environmental history in a transnational context. He combines conventional historical research in archives and libraries with field work in the environments he studies. He has spent much of his career teaching at universities in the north of England and Scotland. He also has extensive experience of both Russia and the USA. He studied for a year at Leningrad State University inwhat was then the Soviet Union, and makes regular visits to Russia and Ukraine, including the steppe region, for research and field work.