Elixir: A History of Water and Humankind

Elixir: A History of Water and Humankind

by Brian Fagan


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Elixir: A History of Water and Humankind by Brian Fagan

Elixir spans five millennia, from ancient Mesopotamia to the parched present of the Sun Belt. As Brian Fagan shows, every human society has been shaped by its relationship toour most essential resource. Fagan's sweeping narrative moves across the world, from ancient Greece and Rome, whose mighty aqueducts still supply modern cities, to China, where emperors marshaled armies of laborers in a centuries-long struggle to tame powerful rivers. He sets out three ages of water: In the first age, lasting thousands of years, water was scarce or at best unpredictable-so precious that it became sacred in almost every culture.
By the time of the Industrial Revolution, human ingenuity had made water flow even in the most arid landscapes.This was the second age: water was no longer a mystical force to be worshipped and husbanded, but a commodity to be exploited. The American desert glittered with swimming pools- with little regard for sustainability. Today, we are entering a third age of water: As the earth's population approaches nine billion and ancient aquifers run dry,we will have to learn once again to show humility, even reverence, for this vital liquid. To solve the water crises of the future, we may need to adapt the water ethos of our ancestors.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781608190034
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: 06/07/2011
Pages: 416
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Brian Fagan was born in England and spent several years doing fieldwork in Africa. He is emeritus professor of anthropology at the
University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the author of
Cro-Magnon, the New York
Times bestseller The Great
Warming, and many other books, including Fish on
Friday: Feasting, Fasting and the Discovery of the New World
and several books on climate history,
including The Little Ice Age and The Long

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