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Water

by Marq de Villiers

Water is necessary for all life. Wars have been fought over it and leaders assassinated, yet it is something that we usually take for granted.

Marq de Villiers, former editor and publisher of Toronto Life, is the author of six books on exploration, history, politics, and travel, including White Tribe Dreaming, his examination of the roots of apartheid from a personal perspective. In Water, de Villiers brings together his varied talents and presents an overview of this essential yet poorly understood resource. He deals with the history and state of water resources, how we are changing and threatening those resources, and the politics of water in six sensitive areas of the world (regions such as the Middle East where a lack of water could lead to conflict). A meditation on what can be done is also offered.

Water is a timely and provocative exploration of our most valuable resource. It is information-rich, yet readable, and entertaining. The images are novel and vivid. For example, half the modern world does not enjoy the same water amenities that the average Ancient Roman would have considered his right.

Much of the information is also unsettling. Every year, Canadians dump seven times more used motor oil into our waterways than the Exxon Valdez spilled in Alaska.

But Water is not millennial doomsaying. It is rational, giving the true doomsayers space alongside the skeptics who believe everything will be fine, and it is this balance that makes the book such a disturbing read. For further information, an extensive bibliography and an index are also included.

De Villiers has created a rare thing, an intelligently written book that is accessible to the general reader. Water serves timely notice of the crisis that may lie around the corner and deserves to be read by everyone who has ever turned on a tap.