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Download Elixir: A History of Water and Humankind Audiobook (Unabridged)

Extended Audio Sample Elixir: A History of Water and Humankind (Unabridged), by Brian Fagan
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (46 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Brian Fagan Narrator: James Langton Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Elixir spans five thousand years, from the beginnings of civilization to the parched American Sun Belt of today. It is a story of human endeavor: our present-day interaction with this most essential resource has deep roots in the remote past, and every human culture has been shaped by its relationship to water. For the earliest hunter-gatherers, knowing where to find water was a matter of life and death; the songlines of Australia's Aborigines define the whole landscape as a map of sacred water sources. In many agricultural societies, from Africa to the rice fields of Bali, a communal water philosophy surrounds the precious resource with social traditions that preserve fair access for people upstream and down.

The sweeping narrative moves from the Greeks and Romans, whose mighty acqueducts still water modern cities, to China, where emperors marshaled armies of laborers in a centuries-long struggle, still ongoing today, to tame the country's powerful rivers. Medieval Europe and then the Industrial Revolution brought ingenious new solutions to water management---but, for the first time, turned water into a commodity to be bought, sold, and exploited rather than a natural force to be worshiped and husbanded. By the twentieth century, technology allowed the American desert to sparkle with swimming pools and lush golf courses---with little regard for sustainability.

With his customary elegance and peerless scholarship, Brian Fagan illustrates that the past teaches us that technologies for solving one or another water problem are not enough. From a practical standpoint, we still live at the mercy of the natural world. To solve the water crises of the future we may need to adapt the water ethos of our ancestors.

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Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Carrie | 8/24/2013

    " While I found the topic, and therefore the book, very interesting, the book is technical and reads like a textbook on the subject. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Michael | 3/9/2013

    " Just plain interesting. I love it when a book tells me how stuff works - or doesn't. Naturally there is a warning involved but it is never preachy. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Chariss Walker | 4/13/2012

    " Another great resource on water. The author gives much detail on ancient societies to present day and the relationship these societies had with water. Fagan urges the reader to return to a time of respect and reverence for this miraculous resource. "

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About the Author

Brian Fagan was born in England, did fieldwork in Africa, and taught at the University of California–Santa Barbara. He is the author of Fish on Friday, The Little Ice Age, The Long Summer, and the New York Times bestseller The Great Warming.