Famine: A Short History By Cormac Ó Gráda (Princeton University Press, 327 pp., $27.95) The earliest recorded famines, according to Cormac Ó Gráda in his brief but masterful book, are mentioned on Egyptian stelae from the third millennium B.C.E. In that time--and to an extent, even today, above the Aswan dam in Sudan--farmers along the Nile were dependent on the river flooding to irrigate their fields. But one flood out of five, Ó Gráda tells us, was either too high or too low. The result was often starvation.
The New York Times reports that the town of George Orwell's birth plans to recognize the British author. The town is Motihari, in the Indian state of Bihar (Orwell's father was an Indian Civil Servant). “The house has been in a bad condition for years,” Vivek Singh, Bihar’s art and culture secretary, said. “The government has decided to initiate work to protect it. We will not allow George Orwell’s ancestral house, where he was born, to be lost to history.