SOCIAL SCIENCES

The Taste of War

World War II and the Battle for Food
The Taste of War: World War II and the Battle for Food. Penguin Pr: Penguin Group (USA). Apr. 2012. c.656p. illus. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781594203299. $36. HIST
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Neither a work of revisionism nor an example of a too-focused academic specialty, this is that rarest of works: one that is scholarly, entertaining, and actually provides new insight into World War II. U.K. historian Collingham (Imperial Bodies: The Physical Experience of the Raj) shows how the food policies of Germany, Japan, the British Empire, and the United States were developed from experiences in World War I or during industrialization and how those policies impacted the way these nations fought World War II. From autarky (i.e., self-sufficiency) to over-reliance on global food markets, the combatant countries all had different policies for feeding their populations, both those in the armed forces and those on the home front. The impact of these policies would lead directly and indirectly to the deaths of 20 million people, a number equal to the combat deaths in this war.
VERDICT In this era, in which little arable land is likely to open up, Collingham's work is relevant for the future as well for historical study. Highly recommended for all who study World War II history, as well as those specializing in the study of food production and food security. [See Prepub Alert, 9/29/11.]

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