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Sustainability: A History

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  105 ratings  ·  13 reviews
The word is nearly ubiquitous: at the grocery store we shop for "sustainable foods" that were produced from "sustainable agriculture"; groups ranging from small advocacy organizations to city and state governments to the United Nations tout "sustainable development" as a strategy for local and global stability; and woe betide the city-dweller who doesn't aim for a "sustain ...more
Hardcover, 331 pages
Published September 1st 2014 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published July 2nd 2014)
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Apr 14, 2016 rated it liked it
Helpful review of the history of Sustainability... but definitely not agnostic. Definitely tries to sell the necessity/inevitability of a switch to a low-growth, no-growth, or de-growth economy. Please, SOMEONE tell me how they plan to do that (and who is expected to enforce this)? Am I missing something here, or would this enforced no-growth or de-growth devastate financial markets? A lot of people seek growth over varying time horizons... in order to invest... in order to generate income and g ...more
Nov 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is not a history. That should not keep you from reading it. The book is more like a bibliographical essay or it could be called "Sustainability: A Review." There are definitely times when Caradonna moves from overview of the scholarly landscape of sustainability to personal opinion, which in his case includes some clear expressions of distain. But for those interested in the topic, this is an excellent resource and guide.
Elinor Hurst
Apr 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
A very useful resource in sustainability. I took quite a while to get through this book, as it was so dense with references and ideas that I then wanted to go away and research.

This book will remain on my shelves for some time to come as a source of inspiration and the seeds for further research on multiple topics related to sustainability. Jeremy Caradonna has done a stirling job of bringing together the historical threads of environmental concern, from the start of the Industrial Revolution,
David Mytton
Aug 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed the actual "history" chapters which go back to the first considerations of what would become "sustainability" from the 1700s.

I particularly liked the review of the key economics theorists and philosophers from the 18th and 19th centuries because they are often associated with the focus on "growth" of modern capitalism, which isn't necessarily true. The history of other societies and how countries like Japan were initially developed around the idea of sustainability was also interestin
May 03, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: could-not-finish
Parts of this book were interesting. However It read like a history book for the first few chapters, and was very challenging to get through. I gave up on page 115.

I skipped ahead to the last chapter, #7 the future: 10 challenges for sustainability. That chapter was full of information and interesting thoughts on how to proceed for a more sustainable world.
Jerry Jessee
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Useful intellectual history of the idea of sustainability.
Lindsey Lewis
Aug 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: net-galley, hold
Disclaimer: I received a free digital ARC of this book from NetGalley for reviewing purposes.

Sustainability is a fairly comprehensive view of "green living" all the way back to the 17th century and thing brings us full circle back to the goals and problems we face in the future.

Although the author explains his reasoning behind starting with "early modern times" I really would have liked to learn about the concept of sustainability in earlier times, because the ones he mentioned seem really inter
Patrick Pilz
Feb 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Sustainability is the next big frontier in our businesses and lives. The book tells the story of the first sustainability efforts in 17th century Germany to what the world is today. It is of course a book against our current way of life at home or at work raising doubts on how we can continue to function. The book reads at times a little lengthy as it contains summaries on some of the most important agreements in the world related to sustainability, but it is a good primer on what sustainability ...more
Lupin Pines
Is a very good book to learn an informative overview of the history of the sustainability movement. Caradonna doesn't go particularly deep into a single topic or historical subject so if you're looking for something in depth I would recommend looking elsewhere. If you just want to dip your toes into what this whole sustainability thing is about and where it comes from this is good book to start with.
Steve Wiggins
Nov 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
A very important book! Caradonna explores why we just don't seem to take the environment seriously. This book causes anxiety and a bit of optimism. It is time to wake up! Read more at: Sects and Violence in the Ancient World. ...more
Girish Shivakumar
Oct 05, 2015 rated it liked it
The book is simple in its approach. It doesn't talk about 'How to save the world' etc. It just puts the facts in places. It will be an interesting read considering you might not have thought Sustainability could have been applied in various contexts across generations from farmers to landlords to economists and even to leaders from the French revolution
Ari Hershberg
Sep 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
There is so much banter about sustainability. The word is used so often that its meaning has been diluted. Thank you Jeremy Caradonna for going into the history and sharing a complete understanding in an easy to read book, that I will remember enough to quote.
Marian Schwaller Carney
Oct 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Overall, a very good read, informative, instructive. There may be some "liberal bias" here but it doesn't clutter the book - take it for what it is and move on with insights gained.
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