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Defending the Master Race Cover

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Defending the Master Race

Conservation, Eugenics, and the Legacy of Madison Grant

Jonathan Spiro

Scholars have labeled Madison Grant everything from the "nation's most influential racist" to the "greatest conservationist that ever lived." His life illuminates early twentieth-century America as it was heading toward the American Century, and his legacy is still very much with us today, from the speeches of immigrant-bashing politicians to the international efforts to arrest climate change. This insightful biography shows how Grant worked side-by-side with figures such as Theodore Roosevelt to found the Bronx Zoo, preserve the California redwoods, and save the American bison from extinction. But Grant was also the leader of the eugenics movement in the United States. He popularized the infamous notions that the blond-haired, blue-eyed Nordics were the "master race" and that the state should eliminate members of inferior races who were of no value to the community. Grant's behind-the-scenes machina tions convinced Congress to enact the immigration restriction legis lation of the 1920s, and his influence led many states to ban interracial marriage and sterilize thousands of "unworthy" citizens. Although most of the relevant archival materials on Madison Grant have mysteriously disappeared over the decades, Jonathan Spiro has devoted many years to reconstructing the hitherto concealed events of Grant's life. His astonishing feat of detective work re veals how the founder of the Bronx Zoo wound up writing the book that Adolf Hitler declared was his "bible."

Delta Empire Cover

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Delta Empire

Lee Wilson and the Transformation of Agriculture in the New South

Jeannie Whayne

In Delta Empire: Lee Wilson and the Transformation of Agriculture in the New South Jeannie Whayne employs the fascinating history of a powerful plantation owner in the Arkansas delta to recount the evolution of southern agriculture from the late nineteenth century through World War II. After his father’s death in 1870, Robert E. “Lee” Wilson inherited 400 acres of land in Mississippi County, Arkansas. Over his lifetime, he transformed that inheritance into a 50,000-acre lumber operation and cotton plantation. Early on, Wilson saw an opportunity in the swampy local terrain, which sold for as little as fifty cents an acre, to satisfy an expanding national market for Arkansas forest reserves. He also led the fundamental transformation of the landscape, involving the drainage of tens of thousands of acres of land, in order to create the vast agricultural empire he envisioned. A consummate manager, Wilson employed the tenancy and sharecropping system to his advantage while earning a reputation for fair treatment of laborers, a reputation—Whayne suggests—not entirely deserved. He cultivated a cadre of relatives and employees from whom he expected absolute devotion. Leveraging every asset during his life and often deeply in debt, Wilson saved his company from bankruptcy several times, leaving it to the next generation to successfully steer the business through the challenges of the 1930s and World War II. Delta Empire traces the transition from the labor-intensive sharecropping and tenancy system to the capital-intensive neo-plantations of the post–World War II era to the portfolio plantation model. Through Wilson’s story Whayne provides a compelling case study of strategic innovation and the changing economy of the South in the late nineteenth century.

The Desert Year Cover

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The Desert Year

Joseph Wood Krutch

Now back in print, Joseph Wood Krutch’s Burroughs Award–winning The Desert Year is as beautiful as it is philosophically profound. Although Krutch—often called the Cactus Walden—came to the desert relatively late in his life, his curiosity and delight in his surroundings abound throughout The Desert Year, whether he is marveling at the majesty of the endless dry sea, at flowers carpeting the desert floor, or at the unexpected appearance of an army of frogs after a heavy rain.

Krutch’s trenchant observations about life prospering in the hostile environment of Arizona’s Sonoran Desert turn to weighty questions about humanity and the precariousness of our existence, putting lie to Western denials of mind in the “lower” forms of life: “Let us not say that this animal or even this plant has ‘become adapted’ to desert conditions. Let us say rather that they have all shown courage and ingenuity in making the best of the world as they found it. And let us remember that if to use such terms in connection with them is a fallacy then it can only be somewhat less a fallacy to use the same terms in connection with ourselves.”

This edition contains 33 exacting drawings by noted illustrator Rudolf Freund. Closely tied to Krutch’s uncluttered text, the drawings tell a story of ineffable beauty.

 

Designing the Bayous Cover

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Designing the Bayous

The Control of Water in the Atchafalaya Basin, 1800-1995

By Martin Reuss

Louisiana’s Atchafalaya River Basin is one of the most dynamic and critical environments in the country. It sustains the nation’s last cypress-tupelo wetland and provides a habitat for many species of animals. Endowed with natural gas and oil fields, the basin also supports a large commercial fisheries industry. Perhaps most crucial, it remains a primary component of the plan to control the Mississippi River and relieve flooding in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and other communities in the lower river valley. The continuing health of the basin is a reflection not of nature, but of the work of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. With levee building and clearing in the nineteenth century and damming, dredging, and floodway construction in the twentieth, the basin was converted from a vast forested swamp into a designer wetland, where human aspirations and nature maintained a precarious equilibrium. Originally published by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers primarily for internal distribution, this environmental and political history of the Atchafalaya Basin is an unflinching account of the transformation of an area that has endured perhaps more human manipulation than any other natural environment in the nation. Martin Reuss provides a new preface to bring us up-to-date on the state of the basin, which remains both an engineering contrivance and natural wonder.

Devil's Cormorant Cover

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Devil's Cormorant

A Natural History

Richard J. King

Behold the cormorant: silent, still, cruciform, and brooding; flashing, soaring, quick as a snake. Evolution has crafted the only creature on Earth that can migrate the length of a continent, dive and hunt deep underwater, perch comfortably on a branch or a wire, walk on land, climb up cliff faces, feed on thousands of different species, and live beside both fresh and salt water in a vast global range of temperatures and altitudes, often in close proximity to man. Long a symbol of gluttony, greed, bad luck, and evil, the cormorant has led a troubled existence in human history, myth, and literature. The birds have been prized as a source of mineral wealth in Peru, hunted to extinction in the Arctic, trained by the Japanese to catch fish, demonized by Milton in Paradise Lost, and reviled, despised, and exterminated by sport and commercial fishermen from Israel to Indianapolis, Toronto to Tierra del Fuego. In The Devil's Cormorant, Richard King takes us back in time and around the world to show us the history, nature, ecology, and economy of the world's most misunderstood waterfowl.

Digital Rubbish Cover

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Digital Rubbish

A Natural History of Electronics

Jennifer Gabrys

This is a study of the material life of information and its devices; of electronic waste in its physical and electronic incarnations; a cultural and material mapping of the spaces where electronics in the form of both hardware and information accumulate, break down, or are stowed away. Electronic waste occurs not just in the form of discarded computers but also as a scatter of information devices, software, and systems that are rendered obsolete and fail. Where other studies have addressed "digital" technology through a focus on its immateriality or virtual qualities, Gabrys traces the material, spatial, cultural, and political infrastructures that enable the emergence and dissolution of these technologies. In the course of her book, she explores five interrelated "spaces" where electronics fall apart: from Silicon Valley to Nasdaq, from containers bound for China to museums and archives that preserve obsolete electronics as cultural artifacts, to the landfill as material repository. All together, these sites stack up into a sedimentary record that forms the "natural history" of this study. Digital Rubbish: A Natural History of Electronics describes the materiality of electronics from a unique perspective, examining the multiple forms of waste that electronics create as evidence of the resources, labor, and imaginaries that are bundled into these machines. By drawing on the material analysis developed by Walter Benjamin, this natural history method allows for an inquiry into electronics that focuses neither on technological progression nor on great inventors but rather considers the ways in which electronic technologies fail and decay. Ranging across studies of media and technology, as well as environments, geography, and design, Jennifer Gabrys pulls together the far-reaching material and cultural processes that enable the making and breaking of these technologies. Jennifer Gabrys is Senior Lecturer in Design and Convener of the Masters in Design and Environment in the Department of Design, Goldsmiths, University of London. Jacket image: Computer dump ©iStockphoto/Lya_Cattel. digitalculturebooks is an imprint of the University of Michigan Press and the Scholarly Publishing Office of the University of Michigan Library dedicated to publishing innovative and accessible work exploring new media and their impact on society, culture, and scholarly communication. Visit the website at www.digitalculture.org.

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Dilemmes énergétiques

Depuis le début de ce millénaire, le prix de l’énergie a connu une flambée sans précédent. Paradoxalement, cette hausse considérable des prix de l’ensemble des produits énergétiques est très bien supportée par l’économie, de sorte que la voracité énergétique n’a pas diminué. Aussi, les projections montrent que, dans un quart de siècle, la consommation mondiale d’énergie devrait croître de moitié. Ces besoins seront comblés à plus de 75% par le recours aux énergies fossiles, qui seront plus que jamais au centre du débat.Par ailleurs, même si on ne peut prédire le moment où l’humanité ne pourra plus survivre aux catastrophes écologiques, le 4e rapport du Groupe d’experts intergouvernemental sur l’évolution du climat (GIEC) montre bien que c’est principalement l’évolution du climat qui nous incitera à reconsidérer l’avenir énergétique de notre planète. Inévitablement, la réconciliation des besoins énergétiques avec l’impératif d’un environnement sain constituera le plus grand défi que l’humanité aura à relever au cours du présent siècle. Dans cet ordre d’idées, les négociations post-Kyoto ont pour objectif de jeter les jalons qui permettront d’aborder du bon pied le défi principal de ce millénaire: réduire substantiellement les émissions de gaz à effet de serre et mettre à contribution les principaux pollueurs, auxquels les ouragans viennent rappeler que leurs besoins énergétiques ne peuvent plus être dissociés de l’avenir de la planète.Cet ouvrage, abondamment illustré par des graphiques construits sur la base de données statistiques, fait le point sur les principales ressources énergétiques de la planète et pose avec acuité le défi environnemental. Sans dogme, il fournit une plateforme à ceux qui, spécialistes ou large public, recherchent une vision globale et veulent forger leur propre point de vue sur les questions énergétiques, indépendamment des plans orchestrés ici et là (USA, Chine…), essentiellement centrés sur la sécurité des approvisionnements.

Dirty Water Cover

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Dirty Water

One Man's Fight to Clean Up One of the World's Most Polluted Bays

Bill Sharpsteen

Dirty Water is the riveting story of how Howard Bennett, a Los Angeles schoolteacher with a gift for outrageous rhetoric, fought pollution in Santa Monica Bay--and won. The story begins in 1985, when many scientists considered the bay to be one of the most polluted bodies of water in the world. The insecticide DDT covered portions of the sea floor. Los Angeles discharged partially treated sewage into its waters. Lifeguards came down with mysterious illnesses. And Howard Bennett happily swam in it every morning.

By accident, Bennett learned that Los Angeles had applied for a waiver from the Clean Water Act to continue discharging sewage into the bay. Incensed that he had been swimming in dirty water, Bennett organized oddball coalition to orchestrate stunts such as wrapping brown ribbon around LA's city hall and issuing Dirty Toilet Awards to chastise the city's administration. This is the fast-paced story of how this unusual cast of characters created an environmental movement in Los Angeles that continues to this day with the nationally recognized Heal the Bay. Character-driven, compelling, and uplifting, Dirty Water tells how even the most polluted water can be cleaned up-by ordinary people.

Discovering the Chesapeake Cover

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Discovering the Chesapeake

The History of an Ecosystem

edited by Philip D. Curtin, Grace S. Brush, and George W. Fisher

With its rich evolutionary record of natural systems and long history of human activity, the Chesapeake Bay provides an excellent example of how a great estuary has responded to the powerful forces of human settlement and environmental change. Discovering the Chesapeake explores all of the long-term changes the Chesapeake has undergone and uncovers the inextricable connections among land, water, and humans in this unusually delicate ecosystem. Edited by a historian, a paleobiologist, and a geologist at the Johns Hopkins University and written for general readers, the book brings together experts in various disciplines to consider the truly complex and interesting environmental history of the Chesapeake and its watershed. Chapters explore a variety of topics, including the natural systems of the watershed and their origins; the effects of human interventions ranging from Indian slash-and-burn practices to changing farming techniques; the introduction of pathogens, both human and botanical; the consequences of the oyster's depletion; the response of bird and animal life to environmental factors introduced by humans; and the influence of the land and water on the people who settled along the Bay. Discovering the Chesapeake, originating in two conferences sponsored by the National Science Foundation, achieves a broad historical and scientific appreciation of the various processes that shaped the Chesapeake region. "Today's Chesapeake Bay is only some ten thousand years old. What a different world it was . . . when the region was the home of the ground sloth, giant beaver, dire wolf, mastodon, and other megafauna. In the next few thousand years, the ice may form again and the Bay will once more be the valley of the Susquehanna, unless, of course, human-induced changes in climate create some other currently unpredictable condition."—from the Introduction [p. xviii]

Do Fish Sleep? Cover

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Do Fish Sleep?

Do Fish Sleep? Fascinating Answers to Questions about Fishes

Judith S. Weis

From the fifty-one-foot whale shark Rhincodon typus to a less-than-one-half-inch fish in the minnow family--the tiny Paedocypris progenetica--fish certainly carry a lot of weight . . . or do they?

A fish's heft in water may vary, but these diverse aquatic animals certainly carry a lot of weight in our ecosystems and environment. From freshwater to ocean habitats, Judith S. Weis offers a fascinating look at these deceptively simple creatures. Fishes may appear to live a dull existence, but appearances change once we understand more about how they survive. These wonders actually possess attributes that would make us superpowers--they can change color, sex, produce light and electricity, regenerate injured fins, prevent themselves from sinking, and some can even walk on land.

Do Fish Sleep? is organized in an easy-to-read and accessible question-and-answer format, filled with more than 55 photographs and over 100 interesting facts from fish biology basics to the importance of preserving and restoring fish diversity and healthy populations. A captivating read for fish enthusiasts of all ages--naturalists, environmentalists, aquarists, scuba divers, and students--this is also the perfect primer for those just about to get their feet wet. Dive in!

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