Food and Famine in the 21st Century

by William A. Dando, Editor


The Great Chinese Famine (1959–1961) claimed more lives than any documented famine in history, with the numbers of lives lost estimated as high as 42 million. Could a similar event occur again? Possibly, but famines of the future will likely occur in mega-urban complexes comprising upwards of 15 million inhabitants in the tropical and subtropical nations of the world—yet food will be plentiful in the developed world outside of these regions.

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Cover image for Food and Famine in the 21st Century

February 2012


Pages 860
Volumes 2
Size 7x10
Topics Geography and World Cultures/Geopolitics

This comprehensive two-volume encyclopedia examines specific famines throughout history and contains entries on key topics related to food production, security and policies, and famine, giving readers an in-depth look at food crises and their causes, responses to them, and outcomes.

Famines have claimed more lives across human history than all the wars ever fought.
This two-volume set represents the most comprehensive study of food and famine currently available, providing the broadest analysis of hunger and famine causes as well as a detailed examination of the ramifications of cultural and natural hazards upon famine.

Volume one focuses upon 50 topics and issues relating to the creation of hunger and famines in the world from 4000 BCE to 2100, including an overview of how agriculture has evolved from primitive hunting and gathering that supported limited numbers of people to a worldwide system that now feeds over seven billion people. Volume two, entitled Classic Famines, begins with famines of the past, from 4000 BCE to 2100 CE, includes ten classic famine case studies, and concludes with predictions of famines we could see in the 21st century and beyond.


  • Contributions from professors at West Point, Rutgers University, and other universities and colleges; specialists at nutrition centers, hospitals, and the Population Reference Bureau; and the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) World Food Day participants
  • Original data, diagrams, photographs, charts, and tables
  • Illustrations include maps, many designed by the author of the entry or book chapter; and graphics secured from U.S. government source material, UN publications, and historic texts
  • A "further readings" section accompanies each entry or book chapter
  • Concluding bibliographies at the end of each volume


  • Provides readers with state-of-the art insights from qualified experts in food production, energy sources, nutrition, hunger, and famine
  • Offers a broad selection of topics and issues unlike any other title in the literature, past or present
Author Info

William A. Dando, PhD, is distinguished professor of geography and chairperson emeritus of the Department of Geography, Geology, and Anthropology at Indiana State University, Terre Haute, IN. He is the author of over 180 articles and more than 24 books, atlases, and monographs, including The Geography of Famine.



"Students interested in international politics and also interested in doing business in other areas of the world would benefit from this book."—ARBA

"This set should be required reading for elected officials in industrialized nations. . . . Highly recommended for public and academic libraries, especially those that support agricultural, geographical, or social studies curricula."—Library Journal

"This two-volume set offers a broad, informative survey of famines and their causes. . . . This set will be especially useful to those just beginning their study of famines and famine issues. Recommended."—Choice

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