"Elvin's book is not so much an environmental history of China as a collection of its fragments. With copious quotations from Chinese written sources of all kinds, he shows what happened in different places and why. Even if we can see from archaeology that comparable events took place elsewhere, only in China are there such written records, giving a unique account of how it felt to live through them. It was not always a pleasant or edifying process, and as usual the voices of those worst affected will never be heard."

Link to full book review in Nature

Reference: Nature 430, 505 (2004)