Select Page


– Rob Nixon, author of Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor


– Kate Darian-Smith, University of Melbourne, Australia


– Iain McCalman and Libby Robin, Series Editors

Shortlisted for the NSW Premier's History Awards 2015

Community and Regional History Prize

Cameron Muir has produced a brilliant, far-reaching book that combines environmental and agricultural approaches to urgent questions about food politics and land management. This is a terrific work of historically textured, geographically immersed story-telling

Rob Nixon, author of Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor

In his gripping account of the failures of European agriculture on the western plains of New South Wales, Cameron Muir challenges our assumptions about the social and environmental outcomes of agricultural progress. How can global food security be maintained, given that modern farming technologies can ‘break’ places? Muir’s perceptive and fresh analysis alerts us to why the lessons of the past are so crucial for the future management of our environments.

Kate Darian-Smith, University of Melbourne, Australia

Cameron Muir combines a literary lyricism with meticulous archival scholarship. Using the forensic scalpel of a humanist, he exposes myths, moral sloganeering and the material consequences of the language and metaphors we use to understand the living world. Muir writes the story of the country where he grew up with compassion for its people and hope for its future.

Iain McCalman and Libby Robin, Series Editors

This book tells the story of how we’ve tried to grow food and fibre, and conserve the environment, with all the violence and courage that marked this endeavour. It’s a tale of small town tragedy and species extinction, of strange experiments and bloody murder, of idealists, visionaries, and the contradictions of an environmental hero who destroyed Australia’s greatest river system.

The Broken Promise of Agricultural Progress casts light on the shadow places. It dramatises the history of the slow violence of grinding ecological damage wrought by our agriculture, and asks whether it is possible to reimagine the world’s food systems.

Routledge/Earthscan, May 2014, ISBN: 978-0-415-73158-4, 230 pp. Available in hardback, paperback and e-book.

hooves × bores × scrub × wheat × dust × reeds × cotton