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

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

3.9 11
by Steven Solomon
 

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“I read this wide-ranging and thoughtful book while sitting on the banks of the Ganges near Varanasi—it's a river already badly polluted, and now threatened by the melting of the loss of the glaciers at its source to global warming. Four hundred million people depend on it, and there's no backup plan. As Steven Solomon makes clear, the same is true the

Overview

“I read this wide-ranging and thoughtful book while sitting on the banks of the Ganges near Varanasi—it's a river already badly polluted, and now threatened by the melting of the loss of the glaciers at its source to global warming. Four hundred million people depend on it, and there's no backup plan. As Steven Solomon makes clear, the same is true the world over; this volume will give you the background to understand the forces that will drive much of 21st century history.” —Bill McKibben

In Water, esteemed journalist Steven Solomon describes a terrifying—and all too real—world in which access to fresh water has replaced oil as the primary cause of global conflicts that increasingly emanate from drought-ridden, overpopulated areas of the world. Meticulously researched and undeniably prescient, Water is a stunningly clear-eyed action statement on what Robert F Kennedy, Jr. calls “the biggest environmental and political challenge of our time.”

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
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.”
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."
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.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061994784
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
01/05/2010
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
624
Sales rank:
263,644
File size:
2 MB

What People are Saying About This

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.”
Daniel Yergin
“ Steve Solomon also defines the critical challenges of waterand the need for new thinkingfor 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
Bill McKibben
“This volume will give you the background to understand the forces that will drive much of 21st century history.”

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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Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
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