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Volume 91, Number 1 (Winter 2017)

Antebellum US Cotton Production and Slavery in the Indian Mirror ALAN L. OLMSTEAD

In the nineteenth century the British repeatedly attempted to improve the quality of Indian cotton. This was a major enterprise involving the importation of thousands of pounds of exotic seeds, the establishment of experimental farms and outreach programs, and the hiring of American overseers to transfer American methods to the subcontinent. The British failed due to their inability to overcome bioclimatic challenges and to replicate the American South’s efficient marketing structures. There is little evidence to support the recent claims that the British sought to import slave management methods or that more coercion was needed for success.

Agricultural History Talks with Alan Olmstead

Landless and Successful: A Cotton Renter and the USDA ERIC L. GRUVER

Based on daily journals and personal interviews with surviving family members, this article examines the life of Ed Robinson, a renting farmer in the Blackland Prairie of Texas, who succeeded financially despite the inherent inequities of the crop-lien system and the economic crises in agriculture between the 1920s and 1938. Robinson (1886–1958) and his landlord conducted farm business outside the parameters of typical landlord-tenant relations, and while many renters faced eviction for non-payment of their debts, the Robinsons’ landlord allowed them to be virtually self-sufficient. Not even the evictions of tenants associated with the New Deal's crop-reduction payments posed a real threat to the Robinsons. Although few renters achieved the Robinsons’ success, historians have since discovered a class of landless farmers who survived the depression.

Cocoa Culture on São Tomé and Príncipe: The Rise and Fall of Cocoa on the Islands in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries SANDRA KIESOW

The small island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe was one of the world’s leading producers of cocoa beans in the early twentieth century. The tropical climate, the abundant precipitation, and the fertile volcanic soils of the islands contributed to a rapid development of cocoa estates, but only the interaction of myriad other factors can explain the quick rise of the islands cocoa production from a few hundred kilograms in 1878 to nearly twelve thousand tons in 1900. This paper explores the development of São Tomé and Príncipe cocoa production from its beginnings to a position as a global leader in the cocoa market.

Family Networks and the Australian Pastoral Industry: A Case Study of the Port Phillip District and Victoria in the Late Nineteenth Century BENJAMIN WILKIE

This article highlights the important function of family and kinship networks in the pastoral industry of the Port Phillip District and Victoria, Australia, during the nineteenth century. Using the core case study of the extended Cameron family—or the Cameron “clan” from the Scottish Highlands—in the Western District of Victoria, it demonstrates how family networks assisted in the accumulation and consolidation of large pastoral properties and enterprises and thus aided the agricultural entrepreneurialism of migrants who saw greater commercial opportunities throughout the Empire than at home.

Book Reviews

Latin America

Kawa, Amazonia in the Anthropocene: People, Soils, Plants, Forests, by Ryan Adams

Coleman, A Camera in the Garden of Eden: The Self-Forging of a Banana Republic, by Jason M. Colby

North America

Birk, Fostering on the Farm: Child Placement in the Rural Midwest, by Elizabeth D. Blum

Vella, George Washington Carver: A Life, by Dana R. Chandler

Boyd, The Slain Wood: Papermaking and Its Environmental Consequences in the American South, by Bartow J. Elmore

Vester, A Taste of Power: Food and American Identities, by Robin O’Sullivan

Collins, Defining the Delta: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on the Lower Mississippi Valley, by Christian Pinnen

Van Nuys, Varmints and Victims: Predator Control in the American West, by Mark V. Barrow Jr.

Birdwell and Dickinson People of the Upper Cumberland: Achievements and Contradictions, by Steven E. Nash

Torget, Seeds of Empire: Cotton, Slavery, and the Transformation of the Texas Borderlands, 1800–1850, by Kathleen Hilliard

Clampitt, Midwest Maize: How Corn Shaped the US Heartland, by Annka Liepold

Catton, American Indians and National Forests, by David Tomblin

Carr Childers, The Size of the Risk: Histories of Multiple Use in the Great Basin, by Diana L. Ahmad

Marcus, ed., Science as Service: Establishing and Reformulating Land-Grant Universities, 1865–1930 and Service as Mandate: How American Land-Grant Universities Shaped the Modern World, 1920–2015, by James Bergman

Weber, From South Texas to the Nation: The Exploitation of Mexican Labor in the Twentieth Century, by Marc Simon Rodriguez

Broad, More Than Just Food: Food Justice and Community Change, by Margaret Gray

Sutter, Let Us Now Praise Famous Gullies: Providence Canyon and the Soils of the South, by Christopher Morris

Middle East

Reilly, Slavery, Agriculture, and Malaria in the Arabian Peninsula, by Alaine Hutson


Kritsky, The Tears of Re: Beekeeping in Ancient Egypt, by Adam Ebert


Ogle, The Global Transformation of Time, 1870–1950, by Timothy K. Minella

Bennett, Plantations and Protected Areas: A Global History of Forest Management, by David Fedman

Zaraska, Meathooked: The History and Science of Our 2.5-Million-Year Obsession with Meat, by Christopher Deutsch

Fresco, Hamburgers in Paradise: The Stories Behind the Food We Eat, by Paul Millar

Bender and Lipman, Making the Empire Work: Labor and United States Imperialism, by Edward D. Melillo

Fitzgerald, Animals as Food: (Re)connecting Production, Processing, Consumption, and Impacts, by Abraham Gibson

Burnard, Planters, Merchants, and Slaves: Plantation Societies in British America, 1650–1820, by Vaughn Scribner


Short, The Battle of the Fields: Rural Community and Authority in Britain during the Second World War, by Mark Riley

Janes, Colonial Food in Interwar Paris: The Taste of Empire, by Laura Sayre

Lien, Becoming Salmon: Aquaculture and the Domestication of a Fish, by Karen Senaga


Doeppers, Feeding Manila In Peace and War, 1850–1945, by Theresa Ventura