A History of Water and Humankind

Book - 2011
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Baker & Taylor
A history of the role of water in shaping civilization covers the aqueducts of ancient Greece, the centuries-long efforts to tame rivers in China, the Industrial Revolution, and present-day efforts to solve sustainability problems.

McMillan Palgrave

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.

Book News
Fagan (emeritus, anthropology, U. of California-Santa Barbara) continues his string of popular book on various dimensions of the interplay between human culture and the natural world by exploring human relationships with water in the past. As far as he knows, this is the first such study on a global scale. His themes are canals, furrows, and rice paddies; waters from afar; cisterns and monsoons; ancient American hydrologists; and gravity and beyond. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

& Taylor

A five-millennia narrative history of the role of water in shaping civilization covers topics ranging from the aqueducts of ancient Greece and the centuries-long efforts to tame rivers in China to the Industrial Revolution and present-day efforts to solve sustainability problems. By the author of The Great Warming. 40,000 first printing.

Publisher: New York : Bloomsbury Press, 2011
Edition: 1st U.S. ed
ISBN: 9781608190034
Branch Call Number: 553.7 FAG
Characteristics: xxvii, 384 p. :,ill., maps ;,25 cm.
Alternative Title: History of water and humankind


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ChristchurchLib Mar 31, 2015

According to anthropologist Brian Fagan, water is "an integral part of our lives that we never think about," which (he adds) is a huge mistake on our part, as it's perhaps the most influential force to ever shape human civilization. In this narrative history, Fagan covers important milestones in the relationship between humans and water, one that spans millennia - from approximately 10,000 BCE to the present. Whether discussing aquifers or aqueducts, hydroelectric power or hydroponics systems, Elixir brings together the historical, cultural, religious, scientific, and philosophical dimensions of water. Nature and Science April 2015 newsletter.

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