Journalist Steven Solomon has written an epic social, geopolitical and economic history of water. At 490 pages and covering the world from ancient Sumer to the future economic opportunities for industrialized democracies in a multipolar world, it is comprehensive and compelling.

Water” will reward the curious reader with an illuminating perspective on how obtaining, using and controlling this most basic of natural resources shaped each of the major civilizations and eras of human history to the present day.

By tracing an arc from the earliest civilizations for whom water was the defining variable of development to the modern world where Europe and later an America rich in natural resources and technical prowess combined to create unparalleled wealth, the author sets the stage for a coming “age of scarcity”. In this future, the vastly increased demand of modern civilization, supply depletion, environmental damage and population growth combine to make water once again the limiting variable.

The last third of the book is Solomon’s take on what that scarcity means for the economies and the people of major regions of the world, and on how they might respond to overcome those challenges. If you’ve followed me this far, the titles of his last three chapters:

  • Thicker than Blood: The Water-Famished Middle East
  • From Have to Have-Not: Mounting Water Distress in Asia’s Rising Giants
  • Opportunity from Scarcity: The New Politics of Water in the Industrial Democracies

should be all the further incentive you need to read this book.

Water…what is it good for…absolutely everything
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