Cover: The Hungry World: America’s Cold War Battle against Poverty in Asia, from Harvard University PressCover: The Hungry World in PAPERBACK

The Hungry World

America’s Cold War Battle against Poverty in Asia

Add to Cart

Product Details


$30.00 • £24.95 • €27.00

ISBN 9780674725812

Publication Date: 09/09/2013


368 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

9 halftones, 1 map in 8p mock insert


Brilliant… Admirable… The Hungry World is an immensely important book… [Cullather] has performed a tremendous service, and written a book not just of interest but of lasting value in showing in detail and with great discernment just how new, and also how radical, development was when it first began to transform the ways powerful nations thought about everything from the specifics of warfighting (it is where the ‘hearts and minds’ doctrine was born, after all) to the broadest questions of national interest… If Cullather is right…then his account requires us to rewrite the diplomatic history of the second half of the twentieth century. The Hungry World is the invaluable beginning of that rewriting.—David Rieff, The Nation

Cullather’s book amounts to a thorough, gracefully written debunking of what might be called the green revolution master narrative… Cullather’s brilliant, concise early chapter on the Green Revolution’s birth in Mexico anchors his broader argument… By the end of the Mexico chapter, Cullather has already shattered the green revolution myth and exposed it as something like a lunge, and a not very well thought-out one, to replace other societies’ farming systems with our own highly problematic one.—Tom Philpott, Mother Jones

[This] is an utterly fascinating story—partially about the economics of famine, but mostly about the irrepressible postwar generation who genuinely believed American technology could win the battle for Asian hearts and minds, and stop communism in its tracks.—Paul Grant, Books & Culture

The Hungry World furnishes a striking vantage on development policy, as well as on the decidedly mixed outcomes of American engagement with Asian politics.—Katherine Maher, Bookforum

Nick Cullather’s exploration of the critical linkages between power politics, scientific and technical assistance, famine alarms and schemes to increase food production is one of the most original and engaging books to date on the impact of the cold war on the emerging states of the developing world.—Michael Adas, author of Dominance by Design: Technological Imperatives and America’s Civilizing Mission

Nick Cullather’s pathbreaking book takes readers on a journey of understanding about the failures of the ‘development’ model so beloved by American policymakers from before the Cold War to the present. It may well become famous as a turning point about how to think about world poverty and to stimulate new answers to it.—Lloyd Gardner, author of Three Kings: The Rise of an American Empire in the Middle East after World War II

A pioneering and transformative work that tracks the politics of hunger from the invention of the calorie to Asia’s Cold War ideological battlegrounds, The Hungry World explores, with a sharp, lively sense of irony, American scientists’ and policy-makers’ relentless and often futile efforts to transmute the conflictual politics of rural deprivation into a technocratic politics of agricultural production.—Paul A. Kramer, author of The Blood of Government: Race, Empire, the United States and the Philippines

Facing insurgencies, U.S. officials and expert advisers want to fight famine, alleviate hunger, and ameliorate the conditions on which terrorism thrives. Nick Cullather’s new book—thoughtful, erudite, provocative—is a vivid and timely explication of the hopes and disappointments of past efforts to modernize and develop.—Melvyn Leffler, author of For the Soul of Mankind: The United States, the Soviet Union, and the Cold War

Awards & Accolades

  • Shortlist, 2011 Lionel Gelber Prize, Lionel Gelber Foundation, Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, and Foreign Policy
  • 2011 Robert H. Ferrell Book Prize, Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations
Washington at the Plow: The Founding Farmer and the Question of Slavery, by Bruce A. Ragsdale, from Harvard University Press

Recent News

Black lives matter. Black voices matter. A statement from HUP »

From Our Blog

Jacket: An Inquiry into Modes of Existence: An Anthropology of the Moderns, by Bruno Latour, translated by Catherine Porter, from Harvard University Press

Honoring Latour

In awarding Bruno Latour the 2021 Kyoto Prize for Arts and Philosophy, the Inamori Foundation said he has “revolutionized the conventional view of science” and “his philosophy re-examines ‘modernity’ based on the dualism of nature and society.” Below is an excerpt from An Inquiry into Modes of Existence: An Anthropology of the Moderns. For more than twenty years, scientific and technological controversies have proliferated in number and scope, eventually reaching the climate itself. Since geologists are beginning to use the term “Anthropocene” to designate the era of Earth’s history that follows the Holocene