Late Victorian Holocausts: El Niño Famines and the Making of the Third World

Regular price $ 19.95

by Mike Davis


07/17/2017, paperback

SKU: 9781784786625


Winner of the World History Association Book Award

Examining a series of El Niño-induced droughts and the famines that they spawned around the globe in the last third of the 19th century, Mike Davis discloses the intimate, baleful relationship between imperial arrogance and natural incident that combined to produce some of the worst tragedies in human history.

Late Victorian Holocausts focuses on three zones of drought and subsequent famine: India, Northern China; and Northeastern Brazil. All were affected by the same global climatic factors that caused massive crop failures, and all experienced brutal famines that decimated local populations. But the effects of drought were magnified in each case because of singularly destructive policies promulgated by different ruling elites.

Davis argues that the seeds of underdevelopment in what later became known as the Third World were sown in this era of High Imperialism, as the price for capitalist modernization was paid in the currency of millions of peasants' lives.


"Davis has given us a book of substantial contemporary relevance as well as great historical interest... this highly informative book goes well beyond its immediate focus." -- Amartya Sen, New York Times

"Davis's range is stunning... He combines political economy, meteorology, and ecology with vivid narratives to create a book that is both a gripping read and a major conceptual achievement. Lots of us talk about writing 'world history' and 'interdisciplinary history' here is the genuine article." -- Kenneth Pomeranz, author of The Great Divergence

"The global climate meets a globalizing political economy, the fundamentals of one clashing with the fundamentalisms of the other. Mike Davis tells the story with zest, anger, and insight." -- Stephen J. Pyne, author of World Fire

"Davis, a brilliant maverick scholar, sets the triumph of the late-nineteenth-century Western imperialism in the context of catastrophic El Niño weather patterns at that time... This is groundbreaking, mind-stretching stuff." -- Independent

"Late Victorian Holocausts will redefine the way we think about the European colonial project. After reading this, I defy even the most ardent nationalist to feel proud of the so-called 'achievements' of empire." -- Observer

About the Author:

Mike Davis is the author of many books including Set the Night on FirePrisoners of the American Dream, Old Gods, New Enigmas, Late Victorian Holocausts, City of QuartzThe Monster EntersBuda's Wagon, and Planet of Slums. He is the recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship and the Lannan Literary Award. He lives in San Diego.