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Drinking Water: A Historyby James Salzman
Synopses & Reviews
When we turn on the tap or twist open a tall plastic bottle, we might not give a second thought to where our drinking water comes from. But how it gets from the ground to the glass is far more complex than we might think. With concerns over pollution and new technologies like fracking, is it safe to drink tap water? Should we feel guilty buying bottled water? Is the water we drink vulnerable to terrorist attacks? With springs running dry and reservoirs emptying, where is our water going to come from in the future?
In Drinking Water, Duke University professor and environmental policy expert 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. Provacative, insightful, and above all fun to read, Drinking Water shows just how complex a simple glass of water can be.
"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." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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.
About the Author
James Salzman holds the Samuel Mordecai chair at the School of Law and the Nicholas Institute Professor chair at the School of the Environment at Duke University. He has written extensively on the topics of environmental conservation, population growth, and climate change. He lives in Durham, North Carolina.
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