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Books > Business & Money > Economics > Economic Conditions > B004Z16SYM
  1. The Hungry World
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  2. The Hungry World

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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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Nick Cullather
Kindle Edition
Kindle eBook
Harvard University Press
Harvard University Press
Harvard University Press
Harvard University Press
Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Cullather's well-researched history of the green revolution in Asia is a breath of fresh air into a polarized debate over food, population, and poverty. He shows how throughout the Cold War, Washington political leaders, diplomats, and private foundations relied on narratives about technological solutions to complex problems, often leaving worse problems in their wake. Borrowing from James C. Scott's "Seeing Like a State," Cullather shows how socio-political challenges were reduced to only their technical components, such as calories produced or population statistics. Coupled with modernization theory and economic models, this led to the globalization of international aid. The consequences of this system are still apparent, as political leaders and philanthropists continue to rely on simplified narratives and models from the green revolution era, ignoring historical, political, cultural, and local contexts.

While it may not be initially apparent, this book would be great... Read more
Professor Cullather is known to his students as a pragmatic, sincere and thoughtful scholar. His new book, The Hungry World, provides a unique and compelling overview of efforts by the US government and non-governmental entities to solve the hunger problem in Asia during the Cold War. Cullather appreciates how idealism and the desire to help others reflected benign motives, but also represented subtle and not so subtle efforts to "reform the other" in the image of the American self. The author provides crucial insights that U.S. foreign policy makers would be wise to take to heart today. Our efforts to reform other peoples and polities, though motivated by good intentions, are ultimately limited by our own limitations and our sometimes tragically limited understanding of ourselves. This is a book about hunger and cold war and asia, but it is much more; Cullather provides a case study in the limits of well meaning efforts aimed at changing others for their own good. As doctors... Read more
Just a really interesting take on the Green Revolution set on the larger stage of the rise of a development ethos in the United States and the international community. Particulalry of interest his how Cullather shows how problems were frequently constructed to fit with solutions that science and funders wanted to pursue. This book should be read by everyone engaged in rural development today as a place for reflection on where this work has come from and where we are going.
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