In Elixir, New York Times bestselling author Brian Fagan tells the story of our most vital resource and how it has shaped our history, from ancient Mesopotamia to the parched present of the Sunbelt. Fagan relates how every human society has been shaped by its relationship to our most essential resource. This 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. As the earth’s population approaches nine billion and ancient aquifers run dry, we once again remember the importance of this vital resource. To solve the water crises of the future, we may need to adapt the water ethos of our ancestors, captured here in rich detail by Brian Fagan.
"As always with Mr. Fagan's work, the range is dazzling, the focus sharp and the pictures vivid . . . The author holds us with his glittering eye, as he conjures a vision of a world with water everywhere, nor any drop to drink."— The Wall Street Journal "Eye-opening . . . Making sense of water and its place in the development of civilization . . . [Fagan] understands how the ancients struggled with changing climate and that what matters has always been the fluctuating availability of water, rather than shifting temperatures. That is an important lesson for us now." —The Washington Post"A rewarding survey of water’s role in history and contemporary politics alike." —Kirkus Reviews
Brian Fagan is emeritus professor of anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the author of Cro-Magnon, the New York Times bestseller The Great Warming, and many other books, including Fish on Friday: Feasting, Fasting and the Discovery of the New World and several books on climate history, including The Little Ice Age and The Long Summer.