Understanding the Cultural Landscape

Bret Wallach

HardcoverPaperbacke-bookprint + e-book
January 20, 2005
ISBN 9781593851200
Price: $112.00
406 Pages
Size: 7" x 10"
January 21, 2005
ISBN 9781593851194
Price: $52.00
406 Pages
Size: 7" x 10"
March 1, 2011
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406 Pages
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406 Pages
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This compelling book offers a fresh perspective on how the natural world has been imagined, built on, and transformed by human beings throughout history and around the globe. Coverage ranges from the earliest societies to preindustrial China and India, from the emergence in Europe of the modern world to the contemporary global economy. The focus is on what the places we have created say about us: our belief systems and the ways we make a living. Also explored are the social and environmental consequences of human activities, and how conflicts over the meaning of progress are reflected in today's urban, rural, and suburban landscapes. Written in a highly engaging style, this ideal undergraduate-level human geography text is illustrated with over 25 maps and 70 photographs.

Note: Visit www.greatmirror.com for many additional photographs by Bret Wallach related to the themes addressed in this book.

Understanding the Cultural Landscape is a tour de force—a splendid example of the lively, clear, and attractive writing that scholarly prose should be, but so seldom is. Bret Wallach, one of America's most distinguished geographers, has revived a noble but long-neglected tradition of cultural geography, deeply rooted in history and an amazing range of geographic facts. For intellectually curious students of the human condition, this is a profoundly important book.”

—Peirce F. Lewis, Department of Geography (Emeritus), Pennsylvania State University

“This book is filled with interesting insights, illuminating the continuing importance of actual geography even in the homogenizing twilight of globalization.”

—Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature

“Most texts in human geography are eye-glazers, room-emptiers. This one emphatically is not. Bret Wallach ranges back and forth across time, space, and scale to bring us this generation's definitive globalist human geography. Imaginatively conceived, sharply detailed, and wonderfully written, the book will work at almost any university level and for intelligent general readers too. All by himself, Wallach may succeed in bringing geography back into the intellectual mainstream. In a word, this book is fabulous.”

—Frank J. Popper, Urban Studies Program, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

“An astonishing achievement! I doubt whether we shall ever see a more useful, thought-provoking account of what our humanized world is really like and how it came to be. Highly readable and informative, this is geography for thoughtful readers at its best.”

—Wilbur Zelinsky, Department of Geography (Emeritus), The Pennsylvania State University

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

I. Anthropological Foundations

2. Human Evolution, Diffusion, and Culture

3. Foragers

4. Domestication

5. The Diffusion and Early Development of Agriculture

6. The Emergence of Civilization

II. Historical Developments

7. China

8. India

9. A Technological Civilization

10. Globalization

III. Livelihoods Today

11. Resource Production

12. Manufacturing

13. Services

14. Transportation and Communication

IV. Social and Environmental Consequences

15. Romantic Responses

16. Political Reactions

17. Conservation, Resources, and Population

18. Pollution, Biodiversity, and Climate Change

V. Reading Landscapes

19. American Cities

20. Rural America

21. Cities Abroad

22. Countrysides Abroad

About the Author

Bret Wallach teaches geography at the University of Oklahoma. A MacArthur Fellow, he has previously published At Odds with Progress: Conservation and Americans and Losing Asia: Modernization and the Culture of Development. He is presently working on a book about the rural landscapes of Eurasia.


Undergraduate geography students; general readers interested in world geography, history, and cultures.

Course Use

Serves as a supplemental or primary text in introductory human geography courses.