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Deep Water: The Epic Struggle over Dams,…
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Deep Water: The Epic Struggle over Dams, Displaced People, and the… (edition 2006)

by Jacques Leslie (Author)

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613381,169 (3.5)None
"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. WithDeep 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 Wateris an incisive, beautifully written, and deeply disquieting report on a conflict that threatens to divide the world in the coming years.… (more)
Member:ggeldenhuis
Title:Deep Water: The Epic Struggle over Dams, Displaced People, and the Environment
Authors:Jacques Leslie (Author)
Info:Picador (2006), Edition: First, 368 pages
Collections:Your library
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Deep Water: The Epic Struggle over Dams, Displaced People, and the Environment by Jacques Leslie

  1. 10
    Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water by Marc Reisner (rakerman)
    rakerman: Cadillac Desert would make a good companion read, as Deep Water doesn't talk about US dams or the mindset about dam building that developed in the USA at all.
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For the past few decades, those who have been working on the issue of big river development, including the Mekong, would probably notice great amount of publications that continue to be released and unnecessary filled up the whole shelf of bookstores and libraries. Most of those books focus on the very issue of dams, displaced people and the environment—the topic that seems to bore its readers already. Despite their overwhelming information and studied cases, these publications often depict conventional arguments and deliver one-dimensional narratives based mainly within the opponents’ perspectives in large dam construction. This includes the extensive accounts of ecological and social impacts of large dams and their reservoirs, critiques to technical and economical justification of the dams, as well as the exploration of the flaws within the politics of dam industry and development enterprise. The redundancy and limited ways of telling the stories seems to be at bay when it comes to the writing of dam development.

Jacques Leslie’s Deep Water introduces a new way of looking at the issue to those who already get tired of the same old storyline. Instead of filling itself with specific details of particular geographical sites, the author invites us to travel along and converse with three of the foremost actors in the drama of world’s large dams. Selected from the members of World Commission on Dams, the author shed light on to the works and lives of the leading dam opponent, proponent, and one that stands in the middle.

The first account is on Medha Patkar, a hardheaded anti-dam activist from India. For the past few years, Medha was trying to drown herself in the dam reservoir as a political campaign against dam construction in her country. The monsoon season led to the increasing water level of the newly emerged dams in India which, in turn, caused further relocation of the native dwellers. It was this very time that Medha attempted to kill herself for the spirit of anti-dam movement. Standing on the other side from Medha, a dam advocate from Australia, Don Blackmore, sees dam technology as an almost only practical answer to the continent’s water shortage. Don had led the government into developing the continent’s largest river basin, the Murray-Darling, through dams and ‘modern’ hydrological technology. The last person explored by the author is an American anthropologist Thayer Scudder who has worked on the issues of people’s relocation from dam construction in many cases of the world. Through his works, he has experienced the abundance of bad dam construction throughout the years of his involvement. At the age of seventy-one, however, Scudder still has faith and is unwearyingly looking for one good dam to be built in this world.

This book goes beyond other generic dam books. It is not about dams per se. Rather, the book deals directly with those who play important roles in shaping the face of the world’s dam enterprise. Through the lively portraits and dynamic involvement with Medha, Don and Scudder that the author successfully reminds us not only to consider the challenge of dam business at the global level. It is also a personal way of thinking, living lives, and ideological orientation of each individual here that crafted the world’s water management. The book should be read especially by scholars and activists working on the issue of dam and affected people. Open your mind and the book will allow you to see the issue from multiple angles. ( )
  jakkrits | Aug 26, 2009 |
I liked it, it takes a very personality-driven approach to the history and present state of dams worldwide, through examining three people deeply involved in dams:

* Medha Patkar (struggling against dams in India)
* Thayer Scudder (trying to build "good dams" worldwide)
* Don Blackmore (trying to manage an Australian dam system)

It is, of course, depressing reading.

In summary: politicians and mega-organizations like the World Bank build huge dams, and as usual, indigenous people and the environment get screwed.

Cadillac Desert would make a good companion read, as Deep Water doesn't talk about US dams or the mindset about dam building that developed in the USA at all. ( )
  rakerman | Feb 21, 2007 |
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"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. WithDeep 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 Wateris an incisive, beautifully written, and deeply disquieting report on a conflict that threatens to divide the world in the coming years.

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