The Broken Promise of Agricultural Progress is a well-conceived scholarly book that explains the difficulties experienced by European agriculture on the western plains of New South Wales. While its focus is on one region, this study is presented in a national and international context. Cameron Muir’s principal concern is to consider at a regional level what he describes as the ‘ecological disorder and inequity at the heart of our food system’. Using a thematic structure, he discusses topics such as European livestock, water usage, the wheat industry and cotton growing.
The book is a timely contribution to recent work in Australian environmental history. Through its detailed discussion of one region, it complements more general overviews. The Broken Promise of Agricultural Progress gives particular attention to key social and political factors associated with food production in New South Wales. Clearly written and organised, with excellent use of images and maps, the book deserves to inform current debates about land usage in inland Australia.