Food is a hot topic these days, and not just among the folks posting pictures of their dinner on Instagram. A growing number of scholars in many fields study food's production, distribution, consumption, connection to geopolitics, environmental impact and history. Alice Weinreb
's new book, Modern Hungers: Food and Power in Twentieth-Century Germany
(Oxford University Press, 2017), is a most welcome contribution to this rapidly expanding and timely field of study.
The global industrial food system grew out of late-nineteenth-century imperialism. In 1914, that system became a weapon of war. For combatant states, maintaining (and disrupting) food supply chains emerged as a major military-strategic objective. Today, all states are caught up in the global food system, but Germany in the twentieth-century provides a unique place to observe its fascinating and often distressing historical permutations, because the country's history condenses so many modern forms of state (imperial, fascist, socialist, liberal-democratic), not to mention global crises and political caesurae--the World Wars, the rise of National Socialism and its defeat, the country's division and reunification.
Professor Weinreb's ambitious, wide-ranging, interdisciplinary study also offers a wealth of perspectives on such topics as food aid, school lunches, obesity, the condition of hunger, and gendered labor, among many others.
Alice Weinreb is Associate Professor of History at Loyola University Chicago, where she teaches courses on twentieth-century Europe, on the history and politics of food, European environmental history, and on the Holocaust.
Monica Black is Associate Professor and Lindsay Young Professor of History at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She teaches courses in modern European and German history.