Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Featured Books Week: Elixir

Title: Elixir: A History of Water and Humankind
Author: Brian Fagan
Publisher: Bloomsbury Press, 2011

Our next Featured Book is Brian Fagan's Elixer: A History of Water and Humankind. Fagan shows that "every human society has been shaped by its relationship to the most basic necessity of life: water" (book jacket). The book spans thousands of years, from ancient Mesopotamia through America's dry southern states today.

Fagan divides this history into what he terms "the three ages of water." The first is  the water scarcity of the  first several thousand years of human existence, a scarcity which caused the resource to become sacred to most peoples. In the second age, beginning with the Industrial Revolution, water became a commodity, eventually taken for granted. The third age of water is beginning now, and we are again seeing the scarcity of the first age.  After taking the reader through these three ages, Fagan ends with a picture of the future and its impending water crisis. According to Fagan, it's time to take action and treat water with "a studied caring and reverence" (347) like our ancestors before us.

What can you do?