Elixir by Brian Fagan
A History of Water and Humankind

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 1 Critic Review

The author holds us with his glittering eye, as he conjures a vision of a world with water everywhere, nor any drop to drink...He is right to admonish us for wasting water but probably wrong to threaten us with the imminent vengeance of the naiads and sprites.
-WSJ online

Synopsis

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.

 

About Brian Fagan

See more books from this Author
Brian Fagan is emeritus professor of anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the author of Beyond the Blue Horizon, Elixir, the Los Angeles Times bestseller Cro-Magnon, and the New York Times bestseller The Great Warming, and many other books. He has decades of experience at sea and is the author of several titles for sailors, including the widely praised Cruising Guide to Central and Southern California. He lives in Santa Barbara, California.
 
Published June 7, 2011 by Bloomsbury Press. 416 pages
Genres: History, Nature & Wildlife, Professional & Technical, Science & Math. Non-fiction
Add Critic Review

Critic reviews for Elixir
All: 1 | Positive: 0 | Negative: 1

WSJ online

Above average
Reviewed by Felipe Fernández-Armesto on May 28 2011

The author holds us with his glittering eye, as he conjures a vision of a world with water everywhere, nor any drop to drink...He is right to admonish us for wasting water but probably wrong to threaten us with the imminent vengeance of the naiads and sprites.

Read Full Review of Elixir: A History of Water an... | See more reviews from WSJ online

Reader Rating for Elixir
69%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 24 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


Rate this book!

Add Review
×