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Rivers of Power: How a Natural Force Raised Kingdoms, Destroyed Civilizations, and Shapes Our World

Rivers of Power: How a Natural Force Raised Kingdoms, Destroyed Civilizations, and Shapes Our World

by Laurence C. Smith PhD
Rivers of Power: How a Natural Force Raised Kingdoms, Destroyed Civilizations, and Shapes Our World

Rivers of Power: How a Natural Force Raised Kingdoms, Destroyed Civilizations, and Shapes Our World

by Laurence C. Smith PhD

Hardcover

$29.00
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Overview

An "eye-opening, sometimes alarming, and ultimately inspiring" natural history of rivers and their complex and ancient relationship with human civilization (Elizabeth Kolbert, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sixth Extinction).

Rivers, more than any road, technology, or political leader, have shaped the course of human civilization. They have opened frontiers, founded cities, settled borders, and fed billions. They promote life, forge peace, grant power, and can capriciously destroy everything in their path. Even today, rivers remain a powerful global force — one that is more critical than ever to our future.

In Rivers of Power, geographer Laurence C. Smith explores the timeless yet underappreciated relationship between rivers and civilization as we know it. Rivers are of course important in many practical ways (water supply, transportation, sanitation, etc). But the full breadth of their influence on the way we live is less obvious. Rivers define and transcend international borders, forcing cooperation between nations. Huge volumes of river water are used to produce energy, raw commodities, and food. Wars, politics, and demography are transformed by their devastating floods. The territorial claims of nations, their cultural and economic ties to each other, and the migrations and histories of their peoples trace back to rivers, river valleys, and the topographic divides they carve upon the world. And as climate change, technology, and cities transform our relationship with nature, new opportunities are arising to protect the waters that sustain us.

Beautifully told and expansive in scope, Rivers of Power reveals how and why rivers have so profoundly influenced our civilization and examines the importance this vast, arterial power holds for the future of humanity.

"
As fascinating as it is beautifully written."—Jared Diamond, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Guns, Germs, and Steel, Collapse, and Upheaval


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316412001
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 04/21/2020
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 661,400
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Laurence C. Smith is the John Atwater and Diana Nelson University Professor of Environmental Studies and Professor of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences at Brown University. Previously, he was Professor and Chair of Geography at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and of the John S. Guggenheim Foundation, and his scientific research has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Economist, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post, and on NPR, CBC Radio, and BBC, among others. His first book, The World in 2050, won the Walter P. Kistler Book Award and was a Nature Editor's Pick of 2012.

Table of Contents

Introduction 3

Chapter 1 The Palermo Stone 9

Chapter 2 On the Border 45

Chapter 3 The Century of Humiliation and Other War Stories 74

Chapter 4 Ruin and Renewal 117

Chapter 5 Seizing the Current 153

Chapter 6 Pork Soup 187

Chapter 7 Going with the Flow 213

Chapter 8 A Thirst for Data 254

Chapter 9 Rivers Rediscovered 283

Acknowledgments 321

References and Further Reading 325

Index 347

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