American agriculture from prehistoric to present times is comprehensively surveyed and related to concurrent technological developments, political conflicts, and economic conditions. Heavily detailed early sections emphasize Indian corn cultivation, the hard life and sectional struggles of pioneer farmers, the importance of the cotton gin, reaper, and other machines, the hegemony of cotton in the antebellum South, and the formation of the National Grange in the late 1800's. Chapters on the 20th-century stress advances based on agricultural research and education, the need to conserve natural resources, and the farmers' problems of crop surplus, low prices, and underemployment. McCoy applauds New Deal measures to achieve parity and an ""ever normal granary,"" sides with the farmer against all opposition from early railroads to today's ""more militant conservationists and environment protectionists,"" and maintains that anti-pollution measures must be ""sponsored"" (i.e. paid for) by the government. Balancing new methods and ongoing research against pollution problems and population projections (they would seem to come out about even), he concludes that ""Nowhere is there reason to believe that there will be a food shortage by the year 2000."" Disappointing as a prescription for the future, the book has more value as a solid if unstreamlined review of the past.