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Review: The Global History of Organic Farming by Gregory A. Barton


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Paull, John (2019) Review: The Global History of Organic Farming by Gregory A. Barton. The English Historical Review, 134 (570), pp. 1346-1348.

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Online at: https://doi.org/10.1093/ehr/cez287


Organic farming is no picnic. Readers of The Global History of Organic Farming should not be deceived by the ‘happy picnic’ cover of this book - nor by the rest of the book either. This book is fatally flawed whether we judge it by its cover, its body text, index or bibliography. This book purports to be a global history of organic farming but it is really a homage to the British expat botanist Alfred Howard (1873-1947). A scholarly work on the global history of organic farming would be welcome, but this is not that book. A scholarly work on the life and times of Alfred Howard would be welcome, but this is not that book either. The author writes of Howard “gaining his PhD from Cambridge University”. This is incorrect. Howard graduated with a BA from Cambridge University in 1899. He did not write a dissertation. He claimed an MA because BA graduates of Cambridge are entitled to an MA after the lapse of some years after matriculation, without any further study (cam.ac.uk). In the Bibliography, Barton incorrectly cites: “Howard, Albert. The Waste Products of Agriculture: Their Utilization as Humus. Oxford, 1931”. There is a co-author of this book, Yeshwant D. Wad (1931). In the Bibliography, Barton cites a non-existent title: “Howard, Albert. The Soil and Health: A Study of Organic Agriculture. London, 1947”. Barton’s book is not what the title purports it to be. In addition, it is riddled with errors, some of omission, some of commission. As for Albert Howard, he was, in his later life, a champion of composting, but composting is not a metonym for organic farming.

EPrint Type:Journal paper
Subjects: Farming Systems
"Organics" in general > Countries and regions > United Kingdom
"Organics" in general > History of organics
"Organics" in general > Countries and regions
Research affiliation: Australia > University of Tasmania
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Deposited By: Paull, Dr John
ID Code:36992
Deposited On:18 Jan 2020 09:47
Last Modified:18 Jan 2020 09:47
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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