How the Gold Rush Led to Real Riches in Bird Poop

Taking a closer look at the cultural history of the Pacific Basin, Gregory T. Cushman reveals the importance of guano.

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Photo: Glenn Koenig / Getty

In studying the cultural and environmental history of the Pacific Basin, Gregory Cushman came to find just how important guano was. This 2015 Andrew Carnegie Fellow has found a rich vein of understudied history, writing the book Guano and the Opening of the Pacific World.

“Being inexact was to the political advantage of the people fighting over boundaries. There was a lot of pressure to be vague or even to intentionally deceive. Good maps weren't in the best interest of the Spanish, the Portuguese.”

How the Gold Rush Led to Real Riches in Bird Poop