Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization [NOOK Book]

Overview

Far more than oil, the control of water wealth throughout history has been pivotal to the rise and fall of great powers, the achievements of civilization, the transformations of society's vital habitats, and the quality of ordinary daily lives. In Water, Steven Solomon offers the first-ever narrative portrait of the power struggles, personalities, and breakthroughs that have shaped humanity from antiquity's earliest civilizations, the Roman Empire, medieval China, and Islam's golden age to Europe's rise, the ...

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Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization

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Overview

Far more than oil, the control of water wealth throughout history has been pivotal to the rise and fall of great powers, the achievements of civilization, the transformations of society's vital habitats, and the quality of ordinary daily lives. In Water, Steven Solomon offers the first-ever narrative portrait of the power struggles, personalities, and breakthroughs that have shaped humanity from antiquity's earliest civilizations, the Roman Empire, medieval China, and Islam's golden age to Europe's rise, the steam-powered Industrial Revolution, and America's century. Today, freshwater scarcity is one of the twenty-first century's decisive, looming challenges and is driving the new political, economic, and environmental realities across the globe.

As modern society runs short of its most indispensable resource and the planet's renewable water ecosystems grow depleted, an explosive new fault line is dividing humanity into water Haves and Have-nots. Genocides, epidemic diseases, failed states, and civil warfare increasingly emanate from water-starved, overpopulated parts of Africa and Asia. Water famines threaten to ignite new wars in the bone-dry Middle East. Faltering clean water supplies menace the sustainable growth and ability of China and India to feed themselves. Water scarcity is inseparably interrelated to the global crises of energy, food, and climate change. For Western democracies, water represents no less than the new oil—demanding a major rethink of basic domestic and foreign policies—but also offering a momentous opportunity to relaunch wealth and global leadership through exploiting a comparative advantage in freshwater reserves. Meticulously researched and masterfully written, Steven Solomon's Water is a groundbreaking account of man's most critical resource in shaping human destinies, from ancient times to our dawning age of water scarcity.

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Editorial Reviews

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.)
Kirkus Reviews
Occasionally murky, slow-flowing study of the role of water in the making-and perhaps undoing-of civilization. Journalist Solomon (The Confidence Game: How Unelected Central Bankers Are Governing the Changed World Economy, 1995) takes a step from short-form reportage into big-picture history, with mixed results. His overall thesis is unexceptionable: Humans have a heavy ecological footprint, and it's getting heavier and less localized as we begin to search more intensively for water as the planet begins to dry up. The wars of the future are likely to be about the control of water, foremost among other resources, and places relatively rich and poor in the substance will come increasingly into conflict. The industrialized nations of the West, though currently embattled, enjoy "relatively modest population pressures and generally moist, temperate environments," which put the former first world at advantage in the new world to come. In the long course of his sweeping history, Solomon often loses the trail; too much of the historical material is padding, disconnected from larger themes. For example, the author includes digressive narratives concerning long sea voyages, which he reels in by remarking that explorers had to find a freshwater source soon after landfall, the development of the "improved cask" notwithstanding. More germane is Solomon's long view of the future, in which he sees opportunity "for the Western-led market democracies to relaunch their global leadership," even if, as he also notes, those countries are most given to squandering water. He identifies plenty of obstacles to an equitable future, both institutional and geophysical, but remains optimistic that science-bornsolutions are in the offing. Though too long and not always to the point, a somewhat useful piece for readers interested in natural resources and the geopolitics attendant to them. Agent: Melanie Jackson/Melanie Jackson Agency
Booklist (starred review)
“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’s most vital resource.”
The National Interest
“A tour de force. . . . Thoughtful. . . . Well-written. . . . Solomon shows that when the incentives are right—where governments and markets are allowed to focus on the real costs of and opportunities for using water resources—much better management of water systems follows.”
Kirkus Reviews
“A sweeping history. . . . Solomon identifies plenty of obstacles to an equitable future, both institutional and geophysical, but remains optimistic that science-born solutions are in the offing. . . . A useful piece for readers interested in natural resources and the geopolitics attendant to them.”
Publishers Weekly
“Persuasive. . . . Unique. . . . 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.”
Booklist
"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’s most vital resource."
Robert F. Kennedy
“A fascinating and provocative work of history that shines new light on what is probably the biggest environmental and political challenge of our time. Steven Solomon’s brilliant book reveals how today’s planetary crisis of freshwater scarcity is recasting the world order and the societies in which we live.”
Linda Lear
“Solomon’s soaring account of our attempt to manage earth’s total environment over millennia never neglects the individuals, inventions, and initiatives pivotal to that effort. Water is the most alarming and compelling call to action I’ve read since Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring.”
Bill McKibben
“This volume will give you the background to understand the forces that will drive much of 21st century history.”
Daniel Yergin
“ Steve Solomon also defines the critical challenges of water – and the need for new thinking – for nations and peoples around the world, both for today and in the future.” —Daniel Yergin, author of The Prize: the Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power
Douglas Brinkley
“Steven Solomon has written a riveting historical manifesto on behalf of Water Power. His sweeping narrative, covering centuries, is awe-inspiring. I learned a tremendous amount of usable knowledge from this fine work.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061994784
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/5/2010
  • Sold by: HARPERCOLLINS
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 624
  • Sales rank: 370,928
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Steven Solomon is a journalist who has written for The New York Times, BusinessWeek, The Economist, Forbes, and Esquire, and has commented on NPR's Marketplace. He is also the author of The Confidence Game. Solomon lives in Washington, D.C.

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Table of Contents

List of Maps

Prologue 1

Pt. 1 Water in Ancient History

1 The Indispensable Resource 9

2 Water and the Start of Civilization 15

3 Rivers, Irrigation, and the Earliest Empires 24

4 Seafaring, Trade, and the Making of the Mediterranean World 59

5 The Grand Canal and the Flourishing of Chinese Civilization 96

6 Islam, Deserts, and the Destiny of History's Most Water-Fragile Civilization 126

Pt. 2 Water and the Ascendancy of the West

7 Waterwheel, Plow, Cargo Ship, and the Awakening of Europe 157

8 The Voyages of Discovery and the Launch of the Oceanic Era 180

9 Steam Power, Industry, and the Age of the British Empire 211

Pt. 3 Water and the Making of the Modern Industrial Society

10 The Sanitary Revolution 249

11 Water Frontiers and the Emergence of the United States 266

12 The Canal to America's Century 302

13 Giant Dams, Water Abundance, and the Rise of Global Society 322

Pt. 4 The Age of Scarcity

14 Water: The New Oil 367

15 Thicker Than Blood: The Water-Famished Middle East 384

16 From Have to Have-Not: Mounting Water Distress in Asia's Rising Giants 417

17 Opportunity from Scarcity: The New Politics of Water in the Industrial Democracies 448

Epilogue 487

Acknowledgments 497

Notes 501

Select Bibliography 551

Photograph Credits 565

Index 567

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 13 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 17 of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2013

    Spped

    "U can do better!" ((Sorry, gtgtb. Bbt though for more! Give it to me....;)())

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2013

    To Tom

    A scared she cat is at first result. Nameless. Take her whereever you want and do your stuff.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2013

    Silverfish

    "I must ask you a question, Tornadocloud." He said. "I admire your talents and how you use them. But I simpley must know if you are a she cat or a tom?" He drew a sharp breath when his di<_>ck dove into the she's pu<_>ssy

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2013

    To Waterripple

    That's my name! Please change your's. Waterripple, sister of Sneakshadow.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2013

    Lookout Cat

    On one of the warriors books. Swear to God i saw it, or i wouldnt be here.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2013

    Blackwing

    Cool

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2013

    Tigerpaw

    Sits, waiting to train. ~Tigerpaw

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    Tristen

    Wait what?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2013

    Myra

    I dont know where she is. Do u wnt to tell u wht se wuz going to tell u?

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2012

    Flamekit

    Shrugs. "It's okay."

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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