Mass Starvation: The History and Future of Famine

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John Wiley & Sons, Dec 8, 2017 - Political Science - 264 pages

The world almost conquered famine. Until the 1980s, this scourge killed ten million people every decade, but by early 2000s mass starvation had all but disappeared. Today, famines are resurgent, driven by war, blockade, hostility to humanitarian principles and a volatile global economy.

In Mass Starvation, world-renowned expert on humanitarian crisis and response Alex de Waal provides an authoritative history of modern famines: their causes, dimensions and why they ended. He analyses starvation as a crime, and breaks new ground in examining forced starvation as an instrument of genocide and war. Refuting the enduring but erroneous view that attributes famine to overpopulation and natural disaster, he shows how political decision or political failing is an essential element in every famine, while the spread of democracy and human rights, and the ending of wars, were major factors in the near-ending of this devastating phenomenon.

Hard-hitting and deeply informed, Mass Starvation explains why man-made famine and the political decisions that could end it for good must once again become a top priority for the international community.


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Incredibly insightful - a must-read for anyone in the field, and a highly recommended read for everyone else.


An Unacknowledged Achievement
Organization of This Book
A Common Agenda for Understanding Famine
Demography Economics Public Health
Politics War Genocide
The Humanitarian International
The Famine that Isnt Coming
The New Atrocity Famines
Mass Starvation in the Future

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About the author (2017)

Alex de Waal is Executive Director of the World Peace Foundation and a Research Professor at The Fletcher School, Tuft's University.

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