environmental issues

Book review – The Vortex: An Environmental History of the Modern World

8-minute read
keywords: environmental history, environmental issues, resource extraction

I admit that I was excited when the University of Pittsburgh Press announced this beast. An 811-page environmental history that argues that our current predicament is not a one-way ticket to sudden collapse but rather death by a thousand cuts? I am game, but perhaps I am just strange that way. In The Vortex, professor of environmental humanities Frank Uekötter fully leans into the messy nature of history by imagining it as a vortex with all its twists, turns, and crosscurrents. Eschewing linear narrative in favour of forty judiciously chosen examples of historical events or developments, this is an ambitious, slightly intimidating, but ultimately edifying book. One potential problem though: The Vortex follows just one month after Bloomsbury released their environmental history blockbuster The Earth Transformed. Since this might fly under people’s radar, I decided to read them back to back. This, then, is the second of a two-part review of two brand-new behemoths that discuss the impact that humans and the environment have had on each other.

The Vortex (more…)