"A fascinating reappraisal of the ecological history of the cradle of Western traditions. Its conclusions are hopeful — perhaps our war with nature is less deeply rooted than we thought." — Bill McKibben
"James McGregor's work on Mediterranean deep history is an exhaustive and highly convincing presentation of the sophistication and sustainability of our old Neolithic European cultures before the 'disaster' that civilization proved to be, overwhelmed them all." — Gary Snyder
The garden was the cultural foundation of the early Mediterranean
peoples; they acknowledged their reliance on and kinship to the land,
and they understood nature through the lens of their diversely
cultivated landscape. Their image of the garden underwrote the biblical
book of Genesis and the region's three major religions.
In this important melding of cultural and ecological histories, James H. S. McGregor suggests that the environmental crisis the world faces today is a result of Western society's abandonment of the "First Nature" principle -- of the harmonious interrelationship of human communities and the natural world. The author demonstrates how this relationship, which persisted for millennia, effectively came to an end in the late eighteenth century, when "nature" came to be equated with untamed landscape devoid of human intervention. McGregor's essential work offers a new understanding of environmental accountability while proposing that recovering the original vision of ourselves, not as antagonists of nature but as cultivators of a biological world to which we innately belong, is possible through proven techniques of the past.
James H. S. McGregor is the author of five books on world cities. He is emeritus professor of comparative literature at the University of Georgia and lives in Cambridge, MA.