Drinking Water: A History

Drinking Water: A History

by James Salzman
     
 

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When you turn on the tap or twist the cap, you might not give a second thought to where your drinking water comes from. But how it gets from the ground to your glass is far more complex than you might think. Is it safe to drink tap water? Should you feel guilty buying bottled water? Is your water vulnerable to terrorist attacks? With springs running dry and

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Overview

When you turn on the tap or twist the cap, you might not give a second thought to where your drinking water comes from. But how it gets from the ground to your glass is far more complex than you might think. Is it safe to drink tap water? Should you feel guilty buying bottled water? Is your water vulnerable to terrorist attacks? With springs running dry and reservoirs emptying, where is your water going to come from in the future?

In Drinking Water, Duke professor James Salzman shows how drinking water highlights the most pressing issues of our time—from globalization and social justice to terrorism and climate change—and how humans have been wrestling with these problems for centuries.

Bloody conflicts over control of water sources stretch as far back as the Bible yet are featured in front page headlines even today. Only fifty years ago, selling bottled water sounded as ludicrous as selling bottled air. Salzman weaves all of these issues together to show just how complex a simple glass of water can be.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Writing in the popular style of world history seen through the lens of a commodity, Duke professor Salzman details the changing approaches that environmentalists, governments, and the open market have taken to this essential of life. Through exploring core questions in water management—whether people have a right to access drinking water, whether it “should be managed as a commodity for sale or a public good,” what it means for water to be clean and safe—Salzman lucidly addresses controversial topics, such as the Clean Water Act and what it does and doesn’t ensure about the safety of our water supply; risks from arsenic contamination and fracking; the benefits of systemwide versus point of use purification; and whether it helps or hurts communities to sell access to their water sources to private corporations. A special focus on the New York City area brings stories about the slaughterhouse-tainted “Collect,” the Tea Water Pump, and the creation of Chase Manhattan Bank under the pretense of privatized water management in the late 1700s, and the building of the massive Croton Reservoir, which was inaugurated in 1842. Finally, Salzman discusses approaches that may define future water use, such as desalinization, investment in infrastructure, and harvesting water from space. Salzman puts a needed spotlight on an often overlooked but critical social, economic, and political resource. Illus. Agent: Doris Michaels, Doris S. Michaels Literary Agency. (Nov.)
From the Publisher
"Though he ranges widely, Mr. Salzman, who teaches law and environmental studies at Duke, focuses on what one might call social justice. Access to water may be viscerally regarded as a “right,” but he points out that the best way to ensure a reliable supply of pure water, especially in poor regions, is often to privatize it." —The New York Times

"What do Rome’s aqueducts, Napoleon’s death, and the pilgrimage site of Lourdes have in common?  All involve water: the leading ingredient of our bodies, essential for our daily lives, and the subject of innumerable struggles.  Why does bottled water, the cheapest and most abundant liquid, sell for more than the same volume of gasoline?  Even if you prefer to drink wine—it’s mostly water anyway—you’ll enjoy this book." —Jared Diamond, Pulitzer-Prize-winning author of Guns, Germs, and Steel

"Instead of buying your next twelve-pack of bottled water, buy this fascinating account of all the people who spent their lives making sure you'd have clean, safe drinking water every time you turned on the tap." —Bill McKibben, author of Earth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet

"Drinking Water effortlessly guides us through a fascinating world we never consider. Even for people who think they know water, there is a surprise on almost every page." —Charles Fishman, bestselling author of The Big Thirst and The Wal-Mart Effect
 

"Meticulously researched, grandly conceived, and splendidly executed, Drinking Water takes a prosaic subject and makes it endlessly fascinating. Smart, witty, and perceptive, Drinking Water is essential reading." —Robert Glennon, author of Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What To Do About It

"Salzman has produced gem of uncommon value—a fascinating book which slips in among its engaging stories their weighty implications for policy." —William K. Reilly, former Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and former President of the World Wildlife Fund

"In his deeply thorough, thought-provoking and ultimately hopeful book, James Salzman shows why water security and quality are set to boil to the surface of world’s politics." —John Elkington, author of The Green Consumer’s Guide and Cannibals with Forks: The Triple Bottom Line of 21st Century Business

"Immensely readable, the book weaves one entertaining story after another to show how we have thought about, valued, protected, and provided this most precious of all liquids." —Paul R. Ehrlich, author of The Population Bomb and The Dominant Animal

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781590207208
Publisher:
The Overlook Press
Publication date:
11/08/2012
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
1,386,196
Product dimensions:
5.84(w) x 8.06(h) x 1.08(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher

"Though he ranges widely, Mr. Salzman, who teaches law and environmental studies at Duke, focuses on what one might call social justice. Access to water may be viscerally regarded as a “right,” but he points out that the best way to ensure a reliable supply of pure water, especially in poor regions, is often to privatize it." —The New York Times

"What do Rome’s aqueducts, Napoleon’s death, and the pilgrimage site of Lourdes have in common?  All involve water: the leading ingredient of our bodies, essential for our daily lives, and the subject of innumerable struggles.  Why does bottled water, the cheapest and most abundant liquid, sell for more than the same volume of gasoline?  Even if you prefer to drink wine--it’s mostly water anyway--you’ll enjoy this book." --Jared Diamond, Pulitzer-Prize-winning author of Guns, Germs, and Steel   "Instead of buying your next twelve-pack of bottled water, buy this fascinating account of all the people who spent their lives making sure you'd have clean, safe drinking water every time you turned on the tap." --Bill McKibben, author of Earth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet   "Drinking Water effortlessly guides us through a fascinating world we never consider. Even for people who think they know water, there is a surprise on almost every page." --Charles Fishman, bestselling author of The Big Thirst and The Wal-Mart Effect
  "Meticulously researched, grandly conceived, and splendidly executed, Drinking Water takes a prosaic subject and makes it endlessly fascinating. Smart, witty, and perceptive, Drinking Water is essential reading." --Robert Glennon, author of Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What To Do About It   "Salzman has produced gem of uncommon value--a fascinating book which slips in among its engaging stories their weighty implications for policy." --William K. Reilly, former Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and former President of the World Wildlife Fund   "In his deeply thorough, thought-provoking and ultimately hopeful book, James Salzman shows why water security and quality are set to boil to the surface of world’s politics." --John Elkington, author of The Green Consumer’s Guide and Cannibals with Forks: The Triple Bottom Line of 21st Century Business   "Immensely readable, the book weaves one entertaining story after another to show how we have thought about, valued, protected, and provided this most precious of all liquids." --Paul R. Ehrlich, author of The Population Bomb and The Dominant Animal

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