Hardly a suitable subject for the festive season, but I have not announced a new publication for 18 months, and it is time to launch a new book. Just in time for Christmas, it is good to remember that some people, sometime, are not as fortunate.
Popularly associated with droughts in sub-Saharan Africa, and charitable ventures to alleviate the suffering, a detailed study of famine shows that famine is mainly the result of government policy and the most effective measure for mitigation once it starts is low-paid work on infrastructure.
Far from being the product of despotic governments, civil wars or natural disasters, famines have most recently occurred under British rule or administration, in countries lavishly supplied by Mother Nature with food.
This book focuses on the famines in Ireland, India and China at times when Britain controlled their tax administration. These three countries provided almost all the profit of the British empire in the 19th Century, yet little has been done to study the impact on those who contributed the most, those most vulnerable to nutritional stress. Apologists for the Empire, even at the time, obfuscated the causes and distributed blame.
To some extent, blaming the natives for their own predicament is reasonable; ascribing responsibility to the individual is the first step towards granting freedom. Britain today, and Europe more generally, is in a situation similar to that of India in 1700 and China in 1500. Once the most powerful, technologically advanced nations in the world, these great empires succumbed to a wave of foreign invasion, conquest and exploitation that resulted in the worst series of natural disasters ever seen.
This book, then, not only presents a historical perspective on one of humanity’s worst self-inflicted disasters, but also provides a warning to complacent citizens and profligate politicians.
Available in hardcover, paperback and ebook, on Amazon and all good bookshops.