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James E. McWilliams
EducationGeorgetown University (B.A., 1991); Harvard University (Ed.M., 1994); University of Texas at Austin (M.A., 1996); Johns Hopkins University (Ph.D., 2001)
Occupation(s)Author, professor
Notable workJust Food: How Locavores are Endangering the Future of Food and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly (2009), American Pests: The Losing War on Insects from Colonial Times to DDT (2008)
SpouseLeila McWilliams (1995–present)
WebsiteJames McWilliams: Texas State University

James E. McWilliams (born 28 November 1968) is professor of history at Texas State University. He specializes in American history, of the colonial and early national period, and in the environmental history of the United States. He also writes for The Texas Observer and the History News Service, and has published a number of op-eds on food in The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, and USA Today. Some of his most popular articles advocate veganism.


He received his B.A. in philosophy from Georgetown University in 1991, his Ed.M. from Harvard University in 1994, his M.A. in American studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 1996, and his Ph.D. in history from Johns Hopkins University in 2001.[1] He won the Walter Muir Whitehill Prize in Early American History awarded by the Colonial Society of Massachusetts for 2000,[2] and won the Hiett Prize in the Humanities from the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture in 2009.[3] He has been a fellow in the Agrarian Studies Program at Yale University.[4]

McWilliams married Leila C. Kempner on March 18, 1995.[5] James and Leila and their two children live in Austin, Texas.[1]

McWilliams is an avid runner[6] and a vegan.[7]

Animal rights

In 2015, McWilliams authored The Modern Savage: Our Unthinking Decision to Eat Animals, a book supportive of animal rights and veganism. McWilliams criticizes the locavore movement, such as backyard and nonindustrial farms which preach compassionate care of animals but slaughter them in the end.[8]


McWilliams' book A Revolution in Eating was positively reviewed by anthropologist Jeffrey Cole as an "engaging, creative, and informative account of food in colonial British America."[9] Historian Etta Madden also positively reviewed the book, commenting that "McWilliams's study of the production and consumption of food contributes to a great understanding of the relationship between food and American identity."[10]

Biologist Marc Bekoff positively reviewed The Modern Savage, as a "very thoughtful work about our meal plans in which he covers the ecological and ethical reasons for not eating nonhuman animals (animals)."[11] Kirkus Reviews commented, "While McWilliams offers convincing arguments for animal rights, they are undermined by the extensive quotes, which become tiresome and offer little useful context."[8] McWilliams' views on agriculture, food production, and animal husbandry have been criticized by other authors in the space, including Joel Salatin.[12] In her review in the Chicago Tribune, journalist Monica Eng questions McWilliams' "contrarian essays" that "play well in the land of page views, [but] don't always fare so well in terms of accuracy."[13]



Peer-reviewed articles

Popular articles

See also


  1. ^ a b Blaschke, Jayme (2009-03-17). "James McWilliams awarded Hiett Prize in the Humanities". Texas State University. Retrieved 2013-07-11.
  2. ^ "Whitehill Prize Past Winners". Northeastern University. 2012. Archived from the original on 2012-12-07. Retrieved 2013-07-09.
  3. ^ Mosley, Joe, ed. (2011-04-19). "'Contrarian agrarian' challenges assumptions about eating sustainably". AroundtheO. University of Oregon. Archived from the original on 2013-01-18. Retrieved 2013-07-08.
  4. ^ "American Pests (book review)". Columbia University Press. New York City. Retrieved 2013-07-08. a recent fellow in the Agrarian Studies Program at Yale University.
  5. ^ "James E McWilliams married Leila C Kempner on March 18, 1995 in Texas". Marriages in Texas, 1966–2010. Retrieved 2013-07-09.
  6. ^ King, David. "Rising Star James McWilliams". Texas State University. Archived from the original on 2013-10-08. Retrieved 2013-07-09. He is an avid runner
  7. ^ McWilliams, James E. (2013-06-23). "The Importance of Being Unsure". Eating Plants Blog. Archived from the original on 2013-12-31. Retrieved 2013-07-09. But, since becoming a vegan, I can sometimes see why the stereotype persists.
  8. ^ a b "The Modern Savage: Our Unthinking Decision to Eat Animals". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved October 6, 2020.
  9. ^ Cole, Jeffrey E. (2009). "A Review of "A Revolution in Eating: How the Quest for Food Shaped America"". Food and Foodways. 17 (2): 133–135. doi:10.1080/07409710902925904. S2CID 162788272.
  10. ^ Madden, Etta (2008). "Reviewed Work: A Revolution in Eating: How the Quest for Food Shaped America by James E. McWilliams". The New England Quarterly. 81 (4): 733–735. doi:10.1162/tneq.2008.81.4.733. S2CID 145634502.
  11. ^ Bekoff, Marc. (2015). "The Modern Savage: A New Book Questions Why We Eat Animals". Psychology Today. Retrieved October 6, 2020.
  12. ^ "Joel Salatin responds to New York Times' 'Myth of Sustainable Meat'". Grist. 2012-04-17. Retrieved 2022-04-15.
  13. ^ Eng, Monica (8 January 2015). "Review: 'The Modern Savage' by James McWilliams". Retrieved 2022-04-15.
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