Synopses & Reviews
If the wars of the last century were fought over oil, the wars of this century will be fought over water. -Ismail Serageldin, The World Bank
The giant dams of today are the modern Pyramids, colossally expensive edifices that generate monumental amounts of electricity, irrigated water, and environmental and social disaster.
With Deep Water, Jacques Leslie offers a searching account of the current crisis over dams and the world's water. An emerging master of long-form reportage, Leslie makes the crisis vivid through the stories of three distinctive figures: Medha Patkar, an Indian activist who opposes a dam that will displace thousands of people in western India; Thayer Scudder, an American anthropologist who studies the effects of giant dams on the peoples of southern Africa; and Don Blackmore, an Australian water manager who struggles to reverse the effects of drought so as to allow Australia to continue its march to California-like prosperity.
Taking the reader to the sites of controversial dams, Leslie shows why dams are at once the hope of developing nations and a blight on their people and landscape. Deep Water is an incisive, beautifully written, and deeply disquieting report on a conflict that threatens to divide the world in the coming years.
"Fascinating . . . Jacques Leslie is a fine writer. . . . No other book presents this issue to a lay reader so thoroughly and so persuasively."--The Seattle Times
"Leslie delivers scene and mood with the economy and precision of a good novelist. His profiles are so well observed one forgets that the characters have not sprung from his own imagination."--Columbia Journalism Review
"Leslie's edgy, potent, and in-depth inquiry unveils the drastic, unintentional consequences of dams and exposes yet more evidence of the catastrophic results of allowing greed and politics to trump science and justice."--Booklist
"Leslie has written a volume that is heir, both in organization and in power, to Encounters with the Archdruid, John McPhee's classic profile of David Brower and his fight against dam-nation. . . . Superb."--Bill McKibben, OnEarth magazine "If the wars of this century were fought over oil, the wars of the next century will be fought over water."--Ismail Serageldin, former Vice President of the World Bank
Beginning with the premise that the great dam-building projects of the twentieth century are like modern-day pyramids in their social scope and economic impact, the author explores the looming crises over water and energy that have precipitated these massive public projects, as well as the mass displacements they provoke. Reprint. 10,000 first printing.
A Discover Magazine Top Science Book of the Year
A Northern California Book Award Finalist
There are more than 45,000 of them in the world. They have altered the speed of the planet's rotation, the tilt of its axis, and the shape of its gravitational field. They influence landscapes and societies. They are dams, and in Deep Water, Jacques Leslie offers an incisive, searching, and beautifully written account of the emerging crisis over dams and the world's water. Reporting in the tradition of John McPhee and Peter Matthiessen, Leslie examines the crisis through the lives of three people: Medha Patkar, the world's foremost anti-dam activist; Thayer Scudder, an American anthropologist; and Don Blackmore, an Australian water manager. In each of these engrossing portraits, Leslie shows how dams seduce national leaders with seeming bounties of water and power but end up producing blights on the citizenry and landscape. Deep Water is an eloquent and important book about the water crisis and a startling look at the fate of our planet.
About the Author
Jacques Leslie's writing has won numerous awards, including the J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award for Deep Water and the Sigma Delta Chi Foreign Correspondence Award for his reporting during the Vietnam War. He is the author of The Mark: A War Correspondent's Memoir of Vietnam and Cambodia. He lives in Mill Valley, California.