J. R. McNeill

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John Robert McNeill (born October 6, 1954) is an environmental historian, author, and professor at Georgetown University. He is best known for authoring Something New Under the Sun: An Environmental History of the Twentieth-century World.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Chicago, Illinois, McNeill received his BA from Swarthmore College in 1975, then went on to Duke University where he completed his MA (1977) and PhD (1981). In 1985 he became a faculty member at Georgetown University, where he serves in both the History Department and the Walsh School of Foreign Service. From 2003 to 2006, he held the Cinco Hermanos Chair in Environmental History and International Affairs, until his appointment as University Professor. He has held two Fulbright Awards, a Guggenheim fellowship, a MacArthur Grant, and a fellowship at the Woodrow Wilson Center. He was president of the American Society for Environmental History (2011–13) and headed the Research Division of the American Historical Association, as one of its three Vice-Presidents (2012–15).

McNeill's father is the noted University of Chicago historian William H. McNeill, with whom he co-authored the book, The Human Web: A Bird's-eye View of World History (New York: Norton, 2003).


McNeill's most well-known work is Something New Under the Sun: An Environmental History of the Twentieth-century World, which documents the dramatic ways humankind has changed the Earth. The book won the 2000 World History Association Book Prize, the Forest Society book prize, among other awards, and has been translated into at least 6 languages.

He has published more than 50 scholarly articles in professional and scientific journals. His other books include "The Atlantic Empires of France and Spain, 1700-1765" (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1985); "Atlantic American Societies from Columbus through Abolition" (co-edited, London: Routledge, 1992); "The Mountains of the Mediterranean World: An Environmental History" (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992); "The Environmental History of the Pacific World" (edited, London: Variorum, 2001); the "Encyclopedia of World Environmental History" (co-edited, New York: Routledge, 2003): "The Human Web: A Bird's-eye View of World History" (New York: Norton, 2003), which he co-authored with his father William H. McNeill; "Rethinking Environmental History: World System History and Global Environmental Change" (co-edited, AltaMira Press, 2007), and "Environmental Histories of the Cold War (co-edited, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010).

McNeill's latest book is Mosquito Empires: Ecology and War in the Greater Caribbean, 1620-1914 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010).

He is working on an environmental history of the Cold War.

Awards and honors[edit]



  1. ^ Ivins, Molly (12 July 2000). "The sound of no dogs barking". The Tuscaloosa News. p. 4A. Retrieved 12 August 2010.