29 Aug 2011

'from Sappho and St Augustine to Sismondi and Schumacher'

I have written eight books on Green Politics, put together this anthology in 1993, met the mother of my kids while I was occupied with Green History.

Alice Walker was so kind to let me include her essay "Nobody was supposed to survive' about the MOVE organisation massacre in Philly, these are the people who Mumia Abu-Jamal was inspired by.

here are some comments and if you want to buy it great but library is even better (ha my publishers hate me!) greener, open source....

'Where Green History really scores is the way in which Derek Wall binds together that would otherwise be interesting but frustratingly disconnected literary snippets. His chapter introductions are extremely helpful in linking the separate parts to what emerges as the `green whole'.' - Jonathon Porritt, BBC Wildlife Magazine

'Derek Wall has assembled some compelling writing to underline how environmental concerns are as old as civilisation itself ... He teases out the beginnings of strands now present in current debate. This is a timely book.' - Tribune

'This book needed writing. It kills off the flip political assumption that environmental concern has no past. We must be grateful to Mr Wall for steering a path through what turns out to be a vast literature - for what is effectively the first time.' - The Spectator

'If you're after a wider and deeper understanding of the green movement and its history, this is for you. - The Herald, Glasgow

'This book contains much that is fascinating and thought-provoking even to someone who thinks they are well-acquainted with the field, and is likely to start more trains of thought than slow them. Surely the intention of all concerned. Take a dip yourself!.' - Venue

'Derek Wall illustrates the history of the environmental debate in this excellent anthology of writings ranging from Sappho and St Augustine to Sismondi and Schumacher.' - The Ecologist --

And a review.

Reader (Cork, Ireland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Green History: Reader in Environmental Literature, Philosophy and Politics (Paperback)
Derek Wall has written a insightful anthology of writings
dealing with humanity and its relations to the environment.
The book has an informative introduction dealing with the origins
of the green movement. Then it goes on to an extract by Alice
Walker (who wrote "The Colour Purple") in which
she describes how a confrontation between Philadelphia police and the controversial
African-American Green group MOVE ended in tragedy.

The subsequent chapters are organised by theme:
for instance, Chapter 2 is about the environmental issues of Ancient
Civilisations (Greece & Rome), while chapter 14 is about "Eco-Feminism"
(which links the oppression of women with the destruction of nature).

The most disturbing sections are in Chapter 4, about anti-ecological
attitudes. We read of Francis Bacon (the philosopher,not the painter)
advocate a technocratic state, US President Andrew Jackson defend the
extermination of the Native Americans, and Sidney and Beatrice Webb
defend Stalin's plans to remould the Soviet environment.

The book is interesting and suprising to read. For instance, I
didn't know John Stuart Mill rejected the idea of "economic growth"
in favour of what we would now call "sustainability", or that he wanted
to protect endangered species (pg.120-1).I knew of Lewis Mumford as
an architectural writer, but in Chapter 7 he calls for an "organic
outlook" that will replace a society based on pollution and
hierarchy to one based on harmony with nature and egalitarianism.
Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" is also quoted, the irresponsible scientist
whose work has disasterous consequences being a metaphor for Green
fears about the "techno-fix". It should be pointed out most of the
Green thinkers in the book aren't against technology as such, only
its most destructive manifestations. There's an interesting passage from
the Victorian socialist writer Edward Carpenter (pgs. 145-6)
about how technology needs to be placed
within an environmentally sound,
human-centred context.

As in any anthology, some readers will wish Author X had been
included and Author Y dropped. I would certainly rather have read
something by the great Victorian nature writer
and liberal reformer Richard Jefferies than
the grumpy reactionary Thomas Carlyle (pg. 144).
Still, Wall has written an entertaining and thought-provoking
book. Recommended to those seeking information on the
Green Movement.

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