Japan is one of the few parts of the old world whose history has been studied in as much depth as that of Europe and the Near East, and is thus an important case study of human-environment interactions. We are fortunate that the first English-language survey of Japan’s environmental history is written by Conrad Totman, who brings many insights from decades of studying and teaching the history of Japanese politics and forestry. This book is written for those without any knowledge of Japan: each chapter places environmental change in a broader historical context, and only English-language sources are cited.

Totman divides Japan’s environmental history into three stages: forager (before 500 BCE; 20 pages), agricultural (500 BCE-1890 CE; 145 pages)...

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