- Hardcover: 608 pages
- Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (January 5, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0060548304
- ISBN-13: 978-0060548308
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 85 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #241,108 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization 1st Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
This sprawling text reconstructs the history of civilization in order to illuminate the importance of water in human development from the first civilizations of the Fertile Crescent and the Indus River Valley to the present. Solomon (The Confidence Game) advances a persuasive argument: the prosperity of nations and empires has depended on their access to water and their ability to harness water resources. The story he tells is familiar, but his emphasis on water is unique: he shows how the Nile's flood patterns determined political unity and dynastic collapses in Egypt. He suggests that the construction of China's Grand Canal made possible a sixth-century reunification that eluded the Roman Empire. Finally, he attributes America's rise to superpower status to such 20th-century water innovations as the Panama Canal and Hoover Dam. Solomon surveys the current state of the world's water resources by region, making a compelling case that the U.S. and other leading democracies have untapped strategic advantages that will only become more significant as water becomes scarcer. (Feb.)
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*Starred Review* Solomon’s unprecedented, all-encompassing, and resounding inquiry into the science and politics of water is predicated on two incontrovertible yet disregarded facts: water is essential to life and civilization. After elucidating water’s defining role in the planet’s climate and quantifying the earth’s limited supply of freshwater, Solomon describes in vivid detail the water technologies of the ancient river societies of Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Assyria. On to Rome and its world-altering aqueducts and advanced sanitation, a crucial subject covered in depth when Solomon turns to nineteenth-century London, after telling the fascinating story of China’s bold and transforming waterworks. By the time Solomon reaches America and its water-powered industrialization, it becomes clear that the technological marvels of one era deliver the environmental challenges of the next. The triumphs of water harnessed, therefore, give way to accounts of water polluted and squandered. Solomon shares sobering revelations about the harsh disparities between the lives of those who have water and those who don’t, reports on the cruel consequences of today’s water scarcities, and assesses the potential for a nightmarish impending freshwater famine. Seeking to inspire us to place a higher value on water and establish wiser approaches to its use, Solomon has created a brilliantly discursive and compelling epic of humankind and earth’s most vital and precious resource. --Donna Seaman
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I would like to stress to all parents and teachers of eighth or ninth grade students to have the students read this book for a very clear primer about world history. If this book cannot be part of a school class then it should be encouraged to be read during the summer break and a report made on it at the beginning of the ninth grade.
Learning about the value of water is important but what this book explains in terms of historical relevance from 3,000 BCE to today will make future history and social study classes much easier to learn. The student will learn why societies built up near rivers and lakes, why ocean located cities grew and expanded over inland or land locked societies. How managing water impacted technical advances in a society over another.
The holidays are near get Water as a present for that 13 or 14 year child, grandchild, or young person you want to mentor.
I don't know the author and am not his agent. But I have simple advice for you.
Buy this book. Read this book. And give thanks that such a stunning book was published.
This was an excellent and entertainingly-written book about an increasingly crucial subject. As the author points out, water is heavy, difficult to purify and transport, and yet amazingly crucial to the everyday activities of everyone everywhere. Therefore a society's sophistication in dealing with water is indeed a fair measure of its overall capabilities and priorities. While in my opinion the author stretches this point a little here and there, it's for the most part a valid one. In my own case, I found the sections on the politics of water most fascinating and informative of all.
The extent to which the ancients engineered water supplies and depended on these efforts was new to me, as I would expect it to be to the vast majority of readers. It is surprising to see how far back in history human manipulation of rivers and wetlands reaches, as well as the scale of some of these projects. It is also surprising to see how far back in history environmental damage, and economic repercussions, can be documented from some of these projects.
The book follows history to the present day, covering modern dam-building, water for power generation, and even efforts to restore the drained wetlands of the Florida Everglades.
Negatives: There are a few passages in Chapter 3 where the timelines confused me and I needed to resort to the Internet for clarification. There are several chapters on control of ocean shipping lanes which seem more about transportation and military history, somewhat tangential to the primary focus of the book.
Overall, the book is clearly written, informative, and comprehensive. I enjoyed reading it and learned a great deal. I'd recommend the book for anyone interested in history, particularly economic or environmental history, no technical background required. The book would provide a good historical context for an introductory course on environmental policy. Another reviewer has recommended the book for high school students, and I concur. I could see the relevant chapters from this book supporting high school or undergraduate courses on ancient history, the industrial revolution, and other periods, as well as giving some historical context to an earth science course.