A History of Water and Humankind

Book - 2011 | 1st U.S. ed.
Average Rating:
Rate this:
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.
Publisher: New York : Bloomsbury Press, 2011.
Edition: 1st U.S. ed.
ISBN: 9781608190034
Branch Call Number: 553.7 FAGAN
Characteristics: xxvii, 384 p. : ill., maps ; 25 cm.


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
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.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at OPL

To Top