This book aims to solve the problem of how parts of mankind escaped from an apparently inevitable trap of war, famine and disease in the last three hundred years. Through a comparative analysis of English and Japanese history it explores such matters as the destruction of war, decline of famine, importance of certain drinks (especially tea), the use of human excrement and the effects of housing, clothing and bathing on human health. It also shows how the English and Japanese controlled fertility through marriage and sexual patterns, biological and contraceptive factors, abortion and infanticide.
ALAN MACFARLANE is Professor of Anthropological Science at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of King's College. In 1986 he was elected a Fellow of the British Academy. His previous books include The Making of the Modern World and The Riddle of the Modern World, both published by Palgrave.