Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization

Water The Epic Struggle for Wealth Power and Civilization I read this wide ranging and thoughtful book while sitting on the banks of the Ganges near Varanasi it s a river already badly polluted and now threatened by the melting of the loss of the glaciers a

  • Title: Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization
  • Author: Steven Solomon
  • ISBN: 9780060548308
  • Page: 218
  • Format: Hardcover
  • I read this wide ranging and thoughtful book while sitting on the banks of the Ganges near Varanasi it s a river already badly polluted, and now threatened by the melting of the loss of the glaciers at its source to global warming Four hundred million people depend on it, and there s no backup plan As Steven Solomon makes clear, the same is true the world over this vol I read this wide ranging and thoughtful book while sitting on the banks of the Ganges near Varanasi it s a river already badly polluted, and now threatened by the melting of the loss of the glaciers at its source to global warming Four hundred million people depend on it, and there s no backup plan As Steven Solomon makes clear, the same is true the world over this volume will give you the background to understand the forces that will drive much of 21st century history Bill McKibbenIn Water, esteemed journalist Steven Solomon describes a terrifying and all too real world in which access to fresh water has replaced oil as the primary cause of global conflicts that increasingly emanate from drought ridden, overpopulated areas of the world Meticulously researched and undeniably prescient, Water is a stunningly clear eyed action statement on what Robert F Kennedy, Jr calls the biggest environmental and political challenge of our time.

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    1. Articles on water:The Geopolitics of Water in the Middle East: fantasies and realitiesHydro-Peace in the MiddleEast: Why no Water Wars? A Case Study of the Jordan River BasinWater, war & peace in the Middle EastWater Conflict in the Middle EastClear GoldWater and War in the Middle East: The Hydraulic Parameters of ConflictNASA: Alarming Water Loss in Middle EastQanatsThere's also a current analysis on water depletion in the Middle East due to global warming and in light of the NASA study:Gro [...]

    2. Before I start my review I want readers to know that THIS BOOK IS NOT FOR EVERYONE! Solomon's writing style is very much like that of a Historian specializing in Economics. Yes, the language and narrative can be dry but unfortunately we can't always write in a Malcolm Gladwell-esque fashion to make economics hip or cool.That being said, Solomon has created a masterpiece. An anthology of inter-connected epochs relating to mankind's relationship to water. Like many historical events, there are ext [...]

    3. Steven Soloman provides some great background about water and its role in civilization. The book follows some general themes. I chose to comment on the two themes I found most compelling. The Emergence of Civilization“All of human society today shares an irrigation legacy with the cradle civilizations of antiquity” (Solomon 2010, 23). Solomon states that momentous turning points in civilization were made possible because of major changes in how humans used water. “The Industrial Revolution [...]

    4. There were some interesting parts to this book, but I thought the author was trying way too hard to join things that really have absolutely nothing to do with each other. I got a lot out of the parts where the author showed how civilizations have lived and died by their management of their water resources, but his trying to somehow marry this with naval warfare and the steam engine? Huh? He might as well have said "people have water in them, therefore everything people have done is really due to [...]

    5. "Water" really has three trains of thought: water for irrigation of crops, water for sanitation, and water for transportation/war. The three aren't necessarily that closely related, involving different questions of geography, engineering, cleanliness, etc. Trying to handle each separately would have resulted in a more streamlined and readable narrative, although who knows if I would have picked up "Irrigation" or "Plumbing." At any rate, after reading a few hundred pages on Ancient Egyptian agri [...]

    6. In a word, dry.It is nonetheless informative and to an extent compelling. Much like other books of this nature, Water provides a researched discussion of a present and forever problem, having access to potable water. This is an issue the existence of which virtually every thinking being intuitively knows. I recall as a boy in the 50's standing at the window of our farmhouse and listening to my grandmother state very affirmatively that someday we are going to run out of water. Unfortunately, give [...]

    7. Way too much information/too big of a scope/not enough detail. The parts about the Middle East or New York's 3rd Tunnel could have been their own books. And what's with the run-on sentences? I read it for a "technology and society" class for graduate-level engineers, which is infuriating. We're not laypeople, where's our book? What lies between this and the the Army Corps' papers on Ogee Spillway design? I wouldn't have finished it if it weren't assigned.

    8. Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization is certainly an ambitious work. Solomon traces water's crucial role throughout world history and argues that those societies that can overcome limitations on water's multiple uses are often at the forefront of material advancement. This is a very widerangeing work and seemed to stretch at times to argue that water was the underlying factor in every historical development. It is several books in one and at times seemed repetitive, but t [...]

    9. I debated between buying this book and another at Barnes and Noble, and I'm glad I bought the other one. While this book had a lot of highly interesting information to impart, definitely one I was able to borrow from the library and give back with no regrets. I'll give the kind of summary I wish I had had when I started the bookI would probably have skimmed parts.The book is divided up into four sections: Ancient History, Ascendency of Europe (very water rich), the Industrial Revolution, and fin [...]

    10. Any book that takes a mere thirty pages to mention Adam Smith’s ‘invisible hand’ probably has a strong economic angle. I wasn’t surprised to see that Solomon writes for economy/business publications: this book is very centered around economic gain and exploitation. It’s not an unexpected view, but if you were looking for something entirely around the use of water in an engineering, ecological, social, or other scientific context this isn’t the book for you.It’s hard to argue with t [...]

    11. We start with a review of the worlds use of water. How those places that were water rich developed more democratic and market driven systems for water use and supply. Those places where water required government intervention to build canals, dams, sluices, and provide irrigation have turned more totalitarian. How some combined states, China, used the central government to supply water from where it was to where it is needed. These states and there use of water have led to our current water issue [...]

    12. Solomon summarizes a history of civilization to show the importance of water. In summary, water has been vital for drinking and food preparation, agriculture, sanitation, power and cooling, navigation and commerce, and protection. This is a very good review of world history, not something new to one’s knowledge base. I found it informative, and, for the most part, very interesting, especially when the author speaks of the increasing scarcity and water becoming the “new oil”. Unfortunately, [...]

    13. The book covers a lot of territory but is very interesting. It starts with the earliest civilizations and how the use of water for agriculture was instrumental in the development and growth of those civilizations. It moves forward in time to the Roman Empire and along the way starts also including how transportation by water impacted the various civilizations and their interactions. Then to Europe and the Renaissance and how rainfall patterns and water availability led to growth, along with inno [...]

    14. I read this book and thought it was an interesting theory on world history. It's sort of a Jared Diamond-type analysis of how a certain geographic characteristic had important implications on the course of history."Water" focuses on different regions throughout different phases in history from ancient times to the present. I did not find the earlier chapters as interesting as the later chapters in which some of the puzzling economics of world water distribution are discussed. The book finishes w [...]

    15. Very well written, comprehensive book covering the role of water and hydrological developments in human history. Text covers the role of irrigation and maritime commerce on early civilizations, as well as how the abundance or scarcity of water affected the development of different cultures, and finally, the role of steam power, dams, and water transfer between different hydrological regions. The author strives to maintain an air of objectivity - unlike some texts on the subject, the book does no [...]

    16. Far more than oil, the control of water wealth throughout history has been pivotal to the rise and fall of great powers, the achievements of civilization, the transformations of society’s vital habitats, and the quality of ordinary daily lives. In Water, Steven Solomon offers the first-ever narrative portrait of the power struggles, personalities, and breakthroughs that have shaped humanity from antiquity’s earliest civilizations, the Roman Empire, medieval China, and Islam’s golden age to [...]

    17. This takes an interesting approach to reading into current water politics by re-visiting prominent ancient civilizations throughout world history, and explaining how their water environment led to certain policies, innovations, and wars. While the breadth of each topic/country could be its own tome, I felt like this was coherent enough to gain some really interesting insights and connections that lead into the present. The only thing lacking were insights into the future, but that might've been [...]

    18. A very interesting book. Part world history as relating to water use; part description of the current state of water usage in the world; and part prediction of the growing conflicts revolving around water rights. The majority of the book considers water a food-growing resource, with some irrigation canals serving a secondary purpose of transportation link. I felt the sections about water as a military obstacle (George Washington crossed the Delaware!) and world commerce path (boats sail over the [...]

    19. A strong history lesson in humanity's use of water to propel civilizations. Does an excellent job of laying out groundwork for how different civilizations with different social and governmental structures controlled and used water for their purposes. Each sections works well, with some focusing on technology, and other focusing on society. Never really feels like in coalesces into a whole, and while it doesn't quite downplay the scarcity problems we will soon face, doesn't really dive hard into [...]

    20. Interesting how looking at history from a certain and different perspective can bring it alive in a way you've not experienced it before. This book did that for me. Of course we know civilizations tended to spring up by lakes, rivers and oceans, but this book brings everything together, starting with ancient history right up to 20th century, in a fresh and brilliant way.If you are concerned about the water shortage on its way, or love reading history made accessible and enjoyable, read this book [...]

    21. A really fascinating survey of water use throughout history -- and how civilization is closely tied to the ability to manage water resources. A good two-thirds of this book is devoted to really old history -- lots about the Egyptians, Babylonians, ancient Chinese, for example -- but it makes a fairly powerful case that civilizations that can provide adequate, non-polluted (or non-salinized, in the case of earlier civilizations) to their people flourish and those that neglect to do so break down. [...]

    22. What an excellent book. The first half of the book covers the major advances in civilization that were the result of new uses of water, starting in the Fertile Valley. It covers travel, agriculture, drinking and sanitation and their effects on population growth and power. The second half of the book covers the problems with current practices, the future of water shortages and the possible paths to solutions, their effects, the possible challenges to those solutions, the possible results of a lac [...]

    23. Other reviews here seem spot-on. There is a heavy focus on capitalist approaches offering best solutions (especially at the end), and a heavy emphasis on conflicts throughout the book. There is also a gentle hum of issues related to overpopulation ever-present in the book, but never addressed head-on. This is not a book that focuses on natural systems - almost no natural history, science, or chemistry of water systems here.

    24. Boy, this was interesting, but it was also a mess. The thesis of the book was that water is important, basically, which is patently true, but doesn't make the task of organization easy. There was just way too much going on, to the extent that this could easily have been four separate books instead of one. Lots of solid research, decent writing, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who doesn't have an unusually diverse set of interests.

    25. I couldn't get through this book. It had such potential in the premise for me, but ended up being a little blah. The main idea is that civilizations around water are more powerful than civilizations who are not. The book just couldn't hold my interest as it made that point over and over with various conflicts in history. Surprise, the folks who have the water will win. I might come back to this at some point, but for now it was just a little too dragging and predictable for me.

    26. A work of splendid scope, Solomon traces the development of human advances in using water into what has become four traditional uses and the newest, fifth use that we now must consider - keeping enough fresh water in our watersheds to keep a stable environment. There is so much to think about and talk about, this one could be read by small groups for many months, especially connected to field visits to understand the water technologies Solomon describes.

    27. I loved this book. To me, the management, procurement, and provision of water is one of the more important public policy issues the world over. This guy provides a fantastic history of how access to water has shaped societies -- particularly our own, but not only ours -- the looming worldwide freshwater crisis and some ideas of how it can be approached.

    28. This book was a pretty dry (pun intended) account of how water has shaped history. There were parts that were interesting, and I suppose if I was more inclined to skim the slow parts, I could have finished this book and given a more thorough review. However, there just wasn't enough to keep me engaged.

    29. Although this is a big sweeping book based entirely on secondary works, I am always happy to see my World History generalizations affirmed--the connection between god-kings and irrigation systems, Mayan slash and burn agriculture, China's isolationism and the Grand Canal, control of the Black Sea, Islamic visions of oasis paradise, water frames and the industrial revolution and so on.

    30. Lewis Lapham's podcast (via Bloomberg) first got me onto this book, which first opened up my interest in water. Very compelling theory for water as the enabler (and bane) of civilization and empire, technology and innovation, growth and decline. Lots of good historical facts - though when I tried to read through a second time to recapture them, I found some of the arguments lacking in depth.

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