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An Environmental History of the Cold War, 1945-25945 A.D. (BCCH Annual Lecture)

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The Birmingham Centre for Contemporary History and the Environmental History Seminar group are pleased to announce their annual lecture (open to all) presented by Professor John McNeill and entitled An Environmental History of the Cold War, 1945-25945 A.D.

Speaker Biography

John McNeill is an eminent environmental historian, academic, and president-elect of the American Society for Environmental History. He received his B.A. from Swarthmore College (1975) and an M.A. (1977) and Ph.D. (1981) from Duke University. He has served as a faculty member at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and History Department (since 1985), and has held the Cinco Hermanos Chair in Environmental and International Affairs (2003-2006). He was appointed professor at Georgetown University in 2006.

Professor McNeill has published more than 40 scholarly articles in professional and scientific journals and has authored several books. He is best known for Something New Under The Sun: An Environmental History of the Twentieth-century World (2000), which documents the impact of humankind on the environment in the last century. The book has received much acclaim (winner of the World History Association and the Forest Society book prizes; finalist in the BP Natural World book prize), has been translated into at least seven languages (Spanish, German, Italian, Swedish, Korean, French, and Chinese), has sold over 70,000 English edition copies, and is currently in its tenth print-run in the US. He is also co-author of the book The Human Web: A Birds-eye View of World History (2003), with his father and renowned University of Chicago historian, William McNeill. He is co-editing(with Kenneth Pomeranz) two volumes of a major new scholarly project, the Cambridge History of the World, an overview of world history for scholars, teachers, advanced students, and general readers.

In his latest book Mosquito Empires: Ecology and War in the Greater Caribbean, 1620–1914 (January 2010), Professor McNeill explores the links among ecology, disease, and international politics in the context of the Greater Caribbean. He is co-editor of the forthcoming Environmental Histories of the Cold War (April 2010), which explores the links between the Cold War and the global environment, ranging from the environmental impacts of nuclear weapons to the political repercussions of environmentalism. In the future, he hopes to write a global environmental history of the Industrial Revolution and a study of the geopolitical history of fossil fuels.


This annual lecture will be followed by a drinks reception in the Senior Common Room.

All welcome!

This talk is part of the Contemporary History series.

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