WWII and the battle for food

Thanks to a review in The New York Times, I just learned about Lizzie Collingham’s book, The Taste of War: World War II and the Battle for Food, newly out in the US. As David Luhrssen of Milwaukee’s Shepherd Express describes, “Collingham explores the role of food in that conflict, showing that securing agricultural independence was one of the objectives of Germany and Japan in launching their campaigns of conquest. The cost of that food drive was enormous…. The only winner was American agribusiness, which emerged from the war as the world’s dominant supplier of food and fertilizer.”

In addition to providing new insights into the causes and consequences of WWII, NYT reviewer Timothy Snyder notes that Collingham’s work provides lessons for current times. “The combination of population growth and prosperity in this century means that we have ever more urban people eating ever more meat, which requires ever more grain, ever more land, ever more efficiency. Climate change and water shortages make soil fertility uncertain. The early 21st century is coming to resemble the early 20th century, with expectations of shortfall influencing ideology and strategy.”

Check out Snyder’s full review here. And for a British review from when the book was first published last year in the UK, see Gerard Woodward’s review from The Telegraph.

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