From the Columbian Exchange beginning in 1492, the development of slavery as a Southern institution, and the westward movement to the dust bowl, the Endangered Species Act, and the destruction caused by the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, human interaction with the environment in America has been continuous, open-ended, and dynamic. How communities and individuals have used land, water, and natural resources has profoundly shaped U.S. history, influencing settlement patterns, social relations, cultural life, economic systems, and political institutions. In the past generation, scholars have examined these human-environmental interactions in myriad ways, giving birth to the exciting, new field of environmental history. By shedding light on new issues and recasting familiar views of major events and developments in our nation's past, environmental historians have reinterpreted American history in a way that is gripping, immediate, and timely.
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