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

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

ISBN13: 9780060548308
ISBN10: 0060548304
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.

Review:

"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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

“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.”

About 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.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Michael O'Brien, May 24, 2010 (view all comments by Michael O'Brien)
'Water' retells human history, not as the stories of prince and popes, rather how cultures from ancient times to the present learned to manage water for agriculture, transportation and power--or did not. For example, one chapter traces the rise and fall of Egyptian dynasties as the inevitable result of fluctuations in rainfall in Ethiopia and agricultural output along the Nile. No pharaoh could overcome lower yields and the disruptions they caused. The book is full of new ideas and insights about water and societies. One chapter surveys China's development of the Yellow and Yangtze rivers and the tensions between Taoist and Confucian approaches to managing water--one enabling, the other dominating. Mastering the sea leapfrogged small European countries like Portugal into global colonial powers. Though written as history Water reads like a novel of twists and turns of fate and human brilliance or failure. Suddenly the frequently heard observation, "water is the new oil" makes sense.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780060548308
Author:
Solomon, Steven
Publisher:
HarperTorch
Subject:
General
Subject:
World - General
Subject:
Natural Resources
Subject:
General History
Subject:
World History-General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Publication Date:
20100131
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
608
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 2.56 oz

Related Subjects


Engineering » Environmental Engineering » Water Supply
History and Social Science » Geography » Water and Hydrology
History and Social Science » Western Civilization » General
History and Social Science » World History » General
History and Social Science » World History » Western Civilization
Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » Air and Water
Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » Energy
Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » Environment
Science and Mathematics » Physics » General
Travel » General

Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization New Hardcover
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$27.99 In Stock
Product details 608 pages Harper - English 9780060548308 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , “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.”

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