Book reviews

“If you’re going to make the effort to carefully read a book, then you might as well share a review with the rest of us.”  Those were words of wisdom from the late Gary L. Gaile, development geographer and supervisor of my masters thesis. In that spirit, every once in a while, a book that I have read inspires me to write up some notes (or I’ve been invited to do so).  Another use of book reviews is to render accessible books in other languages, so I like to review Francophone works, sometimes with translations of the juicier quotes, for the English-language audience.  On this page I gather my reviews (published in journals, or on this blog) together in reverse chronological order:

  • Reimagining livelihoods: life beyond economy, society, and environment by Ethan Miller (2019, Minnesota), reviewed in Environmental Values. pdf.  link
  • Against the grain: a deep history of the earliest states by James C. Scott (2017, Yale), reviewed in Journal of Political Ecologylink pdf
  • Reassembling the strange: naturalists, missionaries, and the environment of nineteenth-century Madagascar by Thomas J. Anderson (2018, Lexington Books), reviewed in Journal of Historical Geography. link.
  • The corridors of power: the political of environmental aid to Madagascar, by Catherine Corson (2016, Yale), reviewed in Journal of African History.  link
  • Humanités environnementales : enquêtes et contre-enquêtes, edited by G. Blanc, É. Demeulenaere & W. Feuerhahn (2017) Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne. blog entry
  • Biodiversités en partage. Reconfigurations de ruralités dans le corridor forestier betsileo tanàla (Madagascar), by H. Rakoto Ramiarantsoa & C. Blanc-Pamard (2014). Marseille: IRD Éditions. link blog entry
  • Manifeste pour une géographie environnementale, edited by Denis Chartier and Estienne Rodary (Paris: Les Presses Sciences Po, 2016). link blog entry
  • Frontier Livelihoods: Hmong in the Sino-Vietnamese Borderlands, by Sarah Turner, Christine Bonnin, and Jean Michaud (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2015). Book by a former McGill colleague; reviewed in Mountain Research and Development.  link  pdf
  • Burning Table Mountain: an environmental history of fire on the Cape Peninsula, by Simon Pooley (Basingstoke: Palsgrave Macmillan, 2014). Reviewed in Journal of Historical Geography 51: 106, 2016. link  pdf
  • Gingko:  the Tree that Time Forgot, by Peter Crane (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013), briefly reviewed in this blog entry
  • Political ecology des services écosytémiques, ed. Arnauld de Sartre, X, M Castro, S Dufour & J Oszwald, eds. (Brussels: P.I.E. Peter Lang, 2014). I am co-author of one of the chapters; summarised in this blog entry.
  • Contest for Land in Madagascar: Environment, Ancestors, Development, edited by Sandra Evers, Gwyn Campbell, and Michael Lambek (Leiden, Brill, 2013).  Reviewed in Environmental History 20(1) 135-137. link pdf
  • La grande invasion: qui a peur des espèces invasives? by Jacques Tassin (Paris: Odile Jacob, 2014).  Title translates to “The grand invasion: who is afraid of invasive species?”  Reviewed in this blog entry.
  • Conservation and Environmental Management in Madagascar, edited by Ivan Scales (London, Earthscan-Routledge, 2014).  I have two chapters in this book; reviewed in this blog entry.
  • Ignition stories: indigenous fire ecology in the Indo-Australian monsoon zone by Cynthia Fowler (Durham: Carolina Academic Press, 2013).  Reviewed in  Journal of Political Ecology 20, 2013. pdf
  • Géopolitique et environnement. Les leçons de l’expérience malgache, edited by H. Rakoto Ramiarantsoa, C. Blanc-Pamard and F. Pinton (Marseille, éditions de l’IRD, 2012).  Title translates to “Geopolitics and environment: lessons of the Malagasy experience”.  I have a chapter in this book; reviewed in this blog entry.
  • Des politiques territoriales durables ? Leçons d’Amazonie by X. Arnauld de Sartre and V. Berdoulay (Paris: Quae, 2011).  Title translates to “Sustainable territorial policies?  Lessons from Amazonia”.  Reviewed in Progress in Human Geography.  37(5): 731-733, 2013. pdf
  • Environnement et pratique paysannes à Madagascar by F. Lasry, C. Blanc-Pamard, P. Milleville, S. Razanaka, and M. Grouzis (Paris: IRD, 2005). Title translates to “Environment and peasant practices in Madagascar”.  Reviewed in African Geographical Review 26: 111-13, 2007. pdf
  • Global Visions, Local Landscapes: a Political Ecology of Conservation, Conflict, and Control in Northern Madagascar by Lisa Gezon (Lanham: Altamira, 2005).  Reviewed in African Studies Review 50(3) 199-200, 2007. pdf
  • The Still-Burning Bush by Stephen Pyne (Melbourne: Scribe, 2006).  Reviewed in Geographical Research 45 (4): 415-6, 2007. pdf
  • Chair de la Terre, Oeil de l’Eau…  Paysanneries et Recompositions de Campagnes en Imerina (Madagascar) by H. Rakoto-Ramiarantsoa (Paris: Orstom, 1995).  Title loosely translates to “Skin of the earth, eye of the water.  Peasants and landscape change in Imerina, Madagascar”.  Reviewed in Human Ecology 26 (1):  168-70, 2008. pdf
  • Downhill Slide:  Why the Corporate Ski Industry is Bad for Skiing, Ski Towns, and the Environment by Hal Clifford. (San Francisco:  Sierra Club Press, 2002).  blog
  • Paysanneries Malgaches dans la Crise, by G. Rabearimanana, J. Ramamonjisoa, and H. Rakoto, ed. by J.-P. Raison (Paris: Karthala, 1994).  Title loosely translates to “Malagasy peasants during the crisis”.  Reviewed in The Geographical Review  86 (4):  638-42. (no author version available; online version via ProQuest or

3 Responses to Book reviews

  1. Dear Professor Kull, what a joy to spot this site and find your unbiased views on so-called ‘alien’ plants. I am afraid that in South Africa (where I live) Britain, USA and America etc, introduced species are treated as vile, removed and killed with such fervour that the earth is polluted with poisons and animals killed and deprived of habitat. At this time of climate change, millions of trees and whole forests have been cut down. No wonder all kinds of species are fast going extinct and our earth is heating up, climate growing more extreme, and natures and earth’s myriad creatures disappearing everywhere. Yet nature has accepted the plants and creatures they so shun, and it is man himself who is behaving like a dangerous alien species. I am an environmental activist who has found through research that more endangered species (animal, plant and insect) disappear through mankinds treatment of exotic species than anything else.

    I wrote an article called THE NATIONALIZATION OF NATURE which can be read on the net. We need calm voices of reason like your own to stop this wholesale destruction – birds are disappearing from the skies, the vegetation skirting our towns is diminishing and the earth, rivers and streams everywhere are being polluted with chemicals.

    I have found that the driving force behind all this are chemical corporations who are happy to take their poisons from the farmlands (which are now devoid of birds and insect life) into our wildlands. So it is not alien species which are killing nature around it, this killing, both here and abroad is motivated by the huge money which can be made from poisoning our planet. Voices of calm reason like yours are needed to help stop this suicidal destruction of our only home in the universe. I hope you will raise yours.

    Gloria Keverne. email

  2. Thanks for your comment Gloria. I looked up your article and found it here (for those interested):
    By the way, a minor correction – James Lovelock did not win a Nobel prize. Best wishes,

  3. Christian, thank you so much for your kind reply and for pointing out my error. I am horrified by this and apologize and will now go through my books and research papers to try and figure out how I come to such a conclusion. Hopefully my error will not detract from this man’s brilliant and exciting work. Thank you again. I am very glad that I found you and your most interesting ideas about alien invasions.

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