What kind of shit is this? Shit that changed the world!

In the last two decades it has been common, in Marxist books on ecology, to find discussions of how capitalist agriculture developed an urgent need for fertilizers to solve the crisis of soil fertility in the 19th century. One source of this fertilizer that is often mentioned is bird manure, guano, from islands in the Pacific ocean. The desperate state of agriculture, and the urgency that drove countries to seek out guano led to wars, ecological crisis and slavery. These issues are usually mentioned just in passing, but Gregory T. Cushman’s excellent book is one of the first lengthy treatments of the subject. It turns out to be both a compelling read and a fascinating study of the interaction between ecology and capitalism.


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