To describe The Hungry World: America's Cold War Battle Against Poverty in Asia as a history of the green revolution does not begin to convey the ambition and rewards of Nick Cullather's new book. In less than three hundred pages, Hungry World offers a detailed diplomatic, intellectual, and cultural history that spans more than a century and three continents. Cullather deepens and revises our understanding of the "green revolution" as a history of the Rockefeller Foundation and its "transfer" of agricultural technology from Mexico to Asia, in part by showing how the green revolution's intellectual and political construction involved a wider cast of characters and a much less linear and far more contested story of competing expertise and domestic and transnational political struggles. Hungry World brings together population science, the emergence of a geopolitics of hunger, struggles over the meaning of the New Deal, postwar images of the peasant village, competing models of development, and the green revolution's political and social legacies. The enduring vision of the green revolution as a triumph of American science and technology requires, Cullather argues, the systematic forgetting of this complex history in favor of a simple narrative, a "heroic parable of population, food, and science" that ultimately fetters our ability to grapple honestly and effectively with poverty and hunger around the world (7-8).
Copyright © 2011 H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online. This article first appeared in H-Diplo Roundtable Review 13:5 (2011), 23-28.
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Sackley, Nicole. "Narratives of Development: Models, Spectacles, and Calculability in Nick Cullather's The Hungry World." H-Diplo Roundtable Review 13, no. 5 (2011): 23-28. http://tinyurl.com/m8nrov3.