Book review – Empires of Food: Feast, Famine, and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations – I

Following is a book review written by James Santigie Kanu, former official of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, and currently Associate Editor of African Prospects Journal.

Empires of Food: Feast, Famine, And The Rise And Fall of Civilizations
by Evan D.G. Fraser and Andrew Rimas

This book is available in the library collection.

What has food meant to humanity throughout the ages? Will the “earth’s soil burn away into dust” because of adverse weather conditions due to climate change, and how will this affect food production? The authors persuade us that these questions were also paramount in the minds of our ancestors in the Euphrates five thousand years ago, as well as the ancient Mayan, Roman, Egyptian, and Greek farmers. Abundant harvests and regular food supplies to feed the human population has not been the norm throughout history. So what did our ancestors do to overcome the many challenges they faced in producing enough food for their growing urban cities?

Evan D.G. Fraser, an adjunct professor of Geography at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, and Andrew Rimas, a journalist and the managing editor at the Improper Bostonian magazine, have produced in eloquent prose a well written book which sheds light on the role food has played in the rise and fall of ancient food empires in places such as Mesopotamia and imperial Rome. The book gives a vivid account of the development of agriculture in Uruk, the first city created by humankind on the once-thriving Fertile Crescent in the Middle East. The authors have also offered the reader an interesting account of our modern breadbaskets and rice bowls in China and the United States. The book is about how food, economics, and agriculture were intertwined to form the foundation of cities, the development of the arts, culture, science, religion and government, all of which are indispensable for a thriving civilization…

Read the rest of this book review here.


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