Late Victorian Holocausts: El Niño Famines And The Making Of The Third World

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Late Victorian Holocausts: El Niño Famines and the Making of the Third World represents a work rich in polemics that ultimately fails to prove the author’s point: that “the ‘Third World’ is the outgrowth of income and wealth inequalities…shaped most decisively in the last quarter of the nineteenth century” with the integration of non-European peasantries into the world economy (15-16). Davis asserts the “Third World” grew out of the effects of the forcible incorporation of smallholder production into commodity and financial regimes controlled from abroad, a concurrent deterioration in the terms of trade, and, Victorian imperialism and its eliminating local fiscal autonomy (289-290). This conclusion should be no surprise as Davis makes a point of …show more content…
The phrase “Maxim and Gatling guns effectively eradicated the last indigenous resistance” is a powerful one, but when one is speaking of the 1870’s it is a false one. The Gatling gun was in very limited service during this period as Maxim did not invent his machine gun until 1884 and its entry into service began even later. He similarly asserts Qing China refused to build railroads or telegraphs due to fears of economic and political penetration, and that it took months for accurate reports from China’s outlying areas to reach Beijing (64). In fact, the traditional Chinese messenger service allowed for the rapid movement of information throughout the empire, and despite conflicting perspectives of official and bureaucrats, telegraphs appeared in 1870, a school for telegraph engineers and operators opened in 1876, and, railroads operated in the 1880’s. While these errors are not fatal, they do significantly detract from his argument: while imagery and gripping prose is important in conveying a compelling narrative, factual accuracy is more so and Davis really failed