The Ongoing Columbian Exchange
Stories of Biological and Economic Transfer in World History
by Christopher Cumo
February 2015, 395pp, 7x10
1 volume, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-61069-795-8
$108, £84, 94€, A148
eBook Available: 978-1-61069-796-5
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Before the Columbian Exchange, there were no oranges in Florida or potatoes in Ireland.

This unique encyclopedia enables students to understand the myriad ways that the Columbian Exchange shaped the modern world, covering every major living organism from pathogens and plants to insects and mammals.

Most people have only the vaguest notion of how profoundly the world was changed by Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the Americas. Indeed, some of what is commonly regarded as “traditional” Native American life and culture—living in teepees and hunting buffalo from horseback, for example—came from the arrival of Europeans. This encyclopedia helps students acquire fundamental information about the Columbian Exchange through approximately 100 alphabetically arranged entries on animals, plants, diseases, and items that were exchanged, accompanied by sidebars throughout that provide interesting discussions of key people, companies, and other related topics.

The work begins with an introductory essay that overviews the Columbian exchange and not only addresses its biological and cultural components but also treats it as a political and economic event. The alphabetically organized entries cover topics ranging from the African slave trade, almonds, and alpacas to watermelon, whooping cough, and yellow fever. The encyclopedia also offers a chronology of the major events of the Columbian Exchange as well as 15 transcribed primary source documents that enable students to “look into history directly,” including passages about the exchange that focus on the Irish Potato Famine, the slave trade, and the influenza pandemic of 1918–1919.


  • Represents the only encyclopedia to comprehensively treat the Columbian Exchange and document how this watershed event in history changed the world, not just in North America but worldwide
  • Provides full accounts of demographic and epidemiological trends and how the planet's current biodiversity resulted from the events of the Columbian Exchange
  • Includes primary documents that offer students material for analysis and promote critical thinking skills, thus supporting Common Core State Standards
  • Supplies both entry bibliographies and a selected, general bibliography to direct students to sources of additional information
Christopher Cumo, PhD, is a historian with multiple interests. He is the author of three books, two encyclopedias, and a number of articles. His published work includes ABC-CLIO's Encyclopedia of Cultivated Plants: From Acacia to Zinnia; Greenwood's Science and Technology in 20th-Century American Life; and Seeds of Change: A History of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Cumo earned his doctorate in history from the University of Akron.


"An exceptional work to add to public and middle-school or high-school libraries."—Booklist, May 12, 2015

"Recommended. Beginning students; general readers."—Choice, August 18, 2015
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