History, Department of


Date of this Version



Ben Taleb, B. “Dust Bowls of Empire: Imperialism, Environmental Politics, and the Injustice of “Green” Capitalism by Hannah Holleman.” Great Plains Quarterly, Vol. 39, No. 4, (Fall 2019): 394-395.


Drawing on a rich multidisciplinary scholarship and extensive original literature, Dust Bowls of Empire resituates the local horror and human tragedy of the 1930s Dust Bowl into a global historical development of the modern world system. At its center are privatization, commodification, and erosion of land, soil, and nature. Holleman takes direct aim at the root causes of an imperial ideology— capitalism— which legislates, institutionalizes, and practices ecological injustices. She explains that the Dust Bowl in the Southern Plains embodies an imperial instance of a global crisis of soil erosion that began in the 1870s and lasted through the first decades of the twentieth century. It was not “an analog, but an antecedent,” affirms Holleman (9). Accordingly, unraveling the system that has produced earlier and subsequent dust bowls moves us beyond limited perspectives and helps tie the direct thread of the past to the present.

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