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Elixir : a history of water and humankind (edition 2011)

by Brian M. Fagan

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62None190,348 (3.67)2
Member:hailelib
Title:Elixir : a history of water and humankind
Authors:Brian M. Fagan
Info:New York : Bloomsbury Press, 2011.
Collections:Read but unowned, Challenge Books, 2011 Books Read
Rating:
Tags:water, history, civilization, 11in11

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Elixir: A History of Water and Humankind by Brian Fagan

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Mediocre book. I enjoyed the later portion of the book with respect to the present and future of water. Much of the earlier history was covered in great detail to the point of being boring. I usually find such books more fascinating but was disappointed by this book. Regardless, there was some interesting information. ( )
  GlennBell | Mar 14, 2014 |
a great book, looking at our use of water in many cultures and times. our course our time is hopeless and troublesome. a lot of cultures have moved on from a lack of water. ( )
  mahallett | Mar 2, 2014 |
Here Fagan examines the ways in which ancient societies reverenced water and carefully used it, the beginnings of irrigation and water management, and how we got to our current situation of depleting our water supply much faster than it can be replenished. He feels that we have a lot to learn from these vanished peoples and that we all need to be ever more mindful of where our water comes from and how we use it.
  hailelib | Feb 27, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 160819003X, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:29:33 -0400)

The author tells the story of our most vital resource and how it has shaped our history, tracing three ages of water. The book spans five millennia, from ancient Mesopotamia to the parched present of the Sun Belt. As the author shows, every human society has been shaped by its relationship to our most essential resource. This 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.… (more)

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