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By Mark Elvin

This landmark book—the first environmental historical past of China—is in response to a wealth of literary, political aesthetic, medical, and non secular resources that show the perspectives of the chinese language humans towards their setting and landscape."Masterly and interesting. . . . crucial if you happen to are looking to comprehend the lengthy sweep of chinese language heritage, and it'll increase the viewpoint of these who imagine they already know it. A scholarly journey de force."—J. R. McNeill, Wilson Quarterly (Note to DMB: cost print review—also in Science?)"Elvin combines an illuminating account of the 4,000 year-long collision of people and nature with pleasant tidbits approximately every little thing lower than the chinese language solar. . . . A magisterial work."—Nicholas D. Kristof, clinical American

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Extra resources for The Retreat of the Elephants: An Environmental History of China

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The mechanism by which clearing forests for rice-farming to some extent controlled malaria must remain a matter for speculation at present. Depending on the region concerned, one of the several species of the Plasmodium protozoans that cause the disease are carried by a member of one or other of certain species of Anopheles mosquitoes, whose preferred habitats are not identical. The mosquito acquires the protozoans as the result of a blood-meal on an 30 Patterns infected human. It passes them, in its saliva, back into the bloodstream of another human victim in the same way.

They load them up with grain, and the animals have an exceptionally docile nature. On occasion they erect frameworks on their backs in which two people can sit face to face when feasting and drinking. When elephants meet with ceremonial arches, they invariably pass through them on their knees. When they are going up a hill they kneel on their forelegs, and going downhill they kneel on their hindlegs, maintaining stability to a greater degree than one can express. When, at times, people have been forcibly pillaged by bandits, they have cried out in desperation to their elephant.

The ecological reality was familiar enough, however, for the image to carry a powerful symbolic impact. ‘Official guardians’ is a title that had in archaic times referred to those whose task it was to protect natural resources, including animals. Now, more than a thousand years later it had been transformed, by a twist of bureaucratic spin-doctoring, into meaning almost the opposite: officials responsible for providing the Court with timber for its new buildings. 20 Patterns Another way the story may be encapsulated is by juxtaposing two facts.

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