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The Secret Knowledge of Water : Discovering…

The Secret Knowledge of Water : Discovering the Essence of the American…

by Craig Childs

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Damn, this is such a good book. I am so sorry that I didn't review it at the time that I first read it, waaay back in 2008. I mean, it's amazing how often I think about this book. Certainly whenever I read about the desert or watch or show which features people searching for water.

Water in the desert is not what you think. You don't seek at the bottom of the canyons. Worth a read. In fact, it's worth a re-read. ( )
  PamFamilyLibrary | May 11, 2017 |
The author looks at the issue of water in the desert. Most of the book is a personal story, detailing his own relationships with water and the arid American southwest. An easy, pleasurable read. ( )
  Devil_llama | Apr 13, 2011 |
A book chosen by our book club proved to provide much information and a lively discussion. Craig Childs takes you on his adventures to find water in the southwest deserts. Under rocks and sand, the Grand Canyon, tanks in the rocks and even water that surfaces at night.

This book is very readable and contains plants, animals, and insects all of whom must find the water to live. It also raises your awareness of how valuable water is.

Recommended for high school biology students as well as anyone wanting more knowledge of water. ( )
  oldbookswine | Feb 14, 2011 |
Craig Childs points out there are two easy ways to die in the desert: thirst and drowning. He explores both in this incredible book about his travels in the desert southwest United States. Childs combines a poetic literary style with hardcore adventure, amazing knowledge of natural history, and a passion for the people who once populated this dry, stark part of the country. I found this an extremely interesting and informative account of the part of the country I grew up in, but which, I see now, I barely knew. ( )
  co_coyote | Jul 3, 2010 |
The Secret Knowledge Water beautifully encapsulates the book cover's warning: "There are two easy ways to die in the desert-thirst and drowning." The twelve essays cover everything from ancient maps of desert water holes and endangered desert fishes to shrines honoring the power of water and tales of harrowing escapes from raging floodwaters. Any of the essays is a worthwhile read on its own, but together they paint a complex picture of how geology, geography, ecology and humans shape the ever-changing desert.

Craig Childs never writes from an armchair or the outside looking in. He fully immerses himself in the desert, walking dozens of miles alone in unmapped territory, exploring canyons cognizant of but unworried by the danger of flash flooding, and taking more notes per mile than any other author I've read. He translates his notes into lyrical prose that truly honors the ecosystem he so clearly loves and transports readers into wild places they might never discover on their own. ( )
2 vote tracyfox | Jan 28, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0316610690, Paperback)

The "essence of the American desert," as the subtitle of Craig Childs's book has it, is water. A desert, by definition, lacks it, but when water does come, it comes in torrential, sometimes devastating abundance. Childs, a thirtysomething desert rat with a vast knowledge of the Southwest's remote corners, knows this fact well. "Most rain falling anywhere but the desert comes slow enough that it is swallowed by the soil without comment," he observes. "Desert rains, powerful and sporadic, tend to hit the ground, gather into floods, and are gone before the water can sink five inches into the ground."

The travels that Childs recounts in this vivid narrative take him from places sometimes parched, sometimes swimming, from the depths of the Grand Canyon to the dry limestone tanks of the lava-strewn Sonoran Desert. As he travels, Childs gives a close reading of the desert landscape ("the moral," he writes at one point, "is that if you know the land and its maps, you might live"), observing the rocks, plants, animals, and people that call it home. Some of his adventures will remind readers of Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire--save that Childs writes without Abbey's bluster, and with a measured lyricism that well suits the achingly lovely back canyons and cactus forests of the Southwest. By turns travelogue, ecological treatise, and meditative essay, Childs's book will speak to anyone who has spent time under desert skies, wondering when the next drop of rain might fall. --Gregory McNamee

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:36 -0400)

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