Landers, John 1952-

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LANDERS, John 1952-

PERSONAL: Born 1952. Education: Earned M.A. and Ph.D.

ADDRESSES: Offıce—Faculty of Modern History, All Souls College, University of Oxford, Broad Street, Oxford OX1 4AL, England. E-mail—[email protected].

CAREER: Shell UK Ltd., oil demand analyst, 1979-80; All Souls College, Oxford, Oxford, England, lecturer in biological anthropology, 1980-2000.

AWARDS, HONORS: Lonman Book Prize shortlist, History Today, for The Field and the Forge: Population, Production, and Power in the Pre-Industrial West.


(Editor, with Vernon Reynolds) Fertility and Resources: Thirty-first Symposium Volume of the Society for the Study of Human Biology, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1990.

Death and the Metropolis: Studies in the DemographicHistory of London 1670-1830, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1993.

The Field and the Forge: Population, Production, andPower in the Pre-Industrial West, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2003.

Also editor of Historical Epidemiology and the Health Transition, (Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia), 1993. Contributor to Rethinking Social History: English Society 1570-1920, edited by A. F. Wilson, Manchester University Press (Manchester, England), 1993.

SIDELIGHTS: John Landers specializes in the history of demographic ideas and historical epidemiology. Death and the Metropolis: Studies in the Demographic History of London 1670-1830 tackles the huge subject of demographics in that overcrowded city during a time of high rates of immigration, insufficient and substandard housing, deplorable sanitary conditions, and a high mortality rate. Landers researched the London Bills of Mortality and utilized models developed over the years to help derive demographic estimates from incomplete data. Graham Mooney commented in his review for Urban Studies that although Landers's resources present "serious methodological problems . . . this should not be allowed to detract from the overall impact of Landers' work, which seeks to place the epidemiological evolution of mortality in London over the 'long eighteenth century' into a wider structural framework that is often absent in other demographic histories." Mooney, however, felt that the concluding pages "fail . . . to deliver a wholly convincing resume of what it means to 'understand' urban demographic change within a structural framework that incorporates economic, social and political dynamics."

James C. Riley, reviewing the book for the American Historical Review said "Landers is at his best and most original in linking the seasonality of death to the disease profile and epidemiologic regime, and in using inferences from that link to assess changes in the quality of the human environment." Riley felt that Landers's presentation of ideas and explanations of how he tested them is "needlessly obscure" but noted that Landers acknowledges that his book does not represent an "incontrovertible history of mortality structure and change." Riley stated: "The conclusions in this book command attention," and in a review for the Historian, Jeremy Black called it a "rich and wide-ranging book" and "a major scholarly study both in demographic modeling and in the demographic history of London."

The Field and the Forge: Population, Production, and Power in the Pre-Industrial West, shortlisted for the History Today/Longman book prize, was described by Jeremy Black in History Today as "a thoughtful and wide-ranging account that ably integrates economic and political circumstances in order to assess the causes, extent and limitations of development in the pre-industrial West." The book gives an introduction to Europe's military history ranging from classical times to the Napoleonic era. Peter Clark pointed out in the Times Literary Supplement that in 1298, the Falkirk campaign commanded by Edward I involved only 30,000 men, yet was probably the largest English royal army of the Middle Ages. By the end of the eighteenth century, however, armies of Revolutionary France numbered more than three million soldiers. "In few other areas of European development in the period did such an organizational transformation of such critical significance occur," commented Clark. "How did it take place and what underpinned it? These are just two of the questions which John Landers . . . tries to answer in his wide-ranging study of the economic and military changes in the West from the ancient period to the start of the nineteenth century."

Landers begins with the consequences of society's dependence on organic sources of energy and raw materials: energy in the form of human and animal muscle power and the raw materials necessary to fuel, clothe, and shelter those energy sources. He then researches the need for geographical control to obtain political power to organize and dispose of economic resources. C. S. L. Davies, writing in the English Historical Review, noted that while the Middle Ages is included in Landers's survey, Europe and the Roman Empire from 1500 to 1800, and the broad military revolution occurring at that time, receive significant attention as well. This revolution, according to Landers, was "the first great energy revolution in human affairs . . . the first time that muscle power had been supplanted by chemical energy." This, in turn, led to heightened organization of manpower: "Musketeers needed little bodily skill but a good deal of drill," commented Davies, noting the consequent development of units, subunits, an increase in officers, and the fielding of much larger armies. Landers discusses the place of political imperatives, public financing, economic growth, and the development of the mineral-fueled economy in the development of the preindustrial West.

Davies wrote that Landers's "exposition of the case, his insistent reference back to limits set by population levels, agricultural production, transport, the taxable capacity of economies, makes very clear the range of practical choices, the inter-connections and feed-backs affecting decision making." Davies further asserted that "the exposition of the problems of feeding armies is masterly," citing Landers' "quantification of the food requirements of horses . . . the length of time galleys and warships could stay at sea without recharging with drinking water," and "the amount of food a soldier could carry in his pack." Black commented: "This study offers much, not least by making economic and spatial considerations more central than usual."



The Field and the Forge: Population, Production, andPower in the Pre-Industrial West, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2003.


American Historical Review, February, 1995, James C. Riley, review of Death and the Metropolis: Studies in the Demographic History of London 1670-1830, p. 159.

English Historical Review, June, 2004, C. S. L. Davies, review of The Field and the Forge: Population, Production, and Power in the Pre-Industrial West, p. 712.

Historian, autumn, 1994, Jeremy Black, review of Death and the Metropolis, p. 173.

History Today, March, 2004, Jeremy Black, review of The Field and the Forge, p. 57.

Times Literary Supplement, January 16, 2004, Peter Clark, review of The Field and the Forge.

Urban Studies, November, 1994, Graham Mooney, review of Death and the Metropolis, p. 1595.