The Hungry World: America's Cold War Battle Against Poverty in Asia (Reprint/1st Harvard University Press Pbk. Ed)

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9780674725812: The Hungry World: America's Cold War Battle Against Poverty in Asia (Reprint/1st Harvard University Press Pbk. Ed)
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Cullather has written an engrossing history of how the United States government, along with private philanthropies like the Ford and Rockefeller foundations, aimed to win the hearts and bodies of rural Asia in the post World War II decades by crafting strategies to develop and modernize agriculture and the peasant's way of life. He explains how America used foreign aid, modernization theory, nutrition, statistics, and technology, to try to reconstruct the social and political order of the decolonized and disadvantaged countries in the region. Initially the issue of how best to intervene in Asia's rural countryside was contentious, with clashing visions of development and humanitarian aid being argued throughout the 50's and 60's. Ultimately, one strategy displaced all the others - the "Green Revolution" and the ability to feed millions through the miracle of genetically designed dwarf strains of grain and rice. Cullather provides a detailed explanation of how this policy of feeding Asian peasants became the single strategy of "progress' adopted by the US rather than industrialization or land reform. As current controversy swirls about how best to aid Africa in the crisis of nation-building, famine, and a poverty-stricken peasantry, the story of the U.S. interventions in Asia become starkly relevant.

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Review:

"The Hungry World" furnishes a striking vantage on development policy, as well as on the decidedly mixed outcomes of American engagement with Asian politics.--Katherine Maher"Bookforum" (12/01/2010)

[This] is an utterly fascinating story--partially about the economics of famine, but mostly about the irrepressible postwar generation who genuinely believed American technology could win the battle for Asian hearts and minds, and stop communism in its tracks.--Paul Grant"Books & Culture" (12/28/2010)

Brilliant...Admirable..."The Hungry World" is an immensely important book...[Cullather] has performed a tremendous service, and written a book not just of interest but of lasting value in showing in detail and with great discernment just how new, and also how radical, development was when it first began to transform the ways powerful nations thought about everything from the specifics of warfighting (it is where the "hearts and minds" doctrine was born, after all) to the broadest questions of national interest...If Cullather is right...then his account requires us to rewrite the diplomatic history of the second half of the twentieth century. "The Hungry World" is the invaluable beginning of that rewriting.--David Rieff"The Nation" (02/17/2011)

Cullather's book amounts to a thorough, gracefully written debunking of what might be called the green revolution master narrative...Cullather's brilliant, concise early chapter on the Green Revolution's birth in Mexico anchors his broader argument...By the end of the Mexico chapter, Cullather has already shattered the green revolution myth and exposed it as something like a lunge, and a not very well thought-out one, to replace other societies' farming systems with our own highly problematic one.--Tom Philpott"Mother Jones" (08/05/2011)

About the Author:

Nick Cullather is Professor of History and International Studies at Indiana University.

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