December 10, 2007

Book Review - Water

Water: A Natural History
Alice Outwater
GB 701 .O88 1996

This is an interesting book. Outwater focuses on the role that water, particularly waterways, play in American history. Her book divides this history into two broad eras--one in which humans began interacting with the natural system and a later period in which human engineering reconfigured the way that they interacted with water. The first part of the book examines human-water relationships in different ecosystems, including rivers, forests, grasslands and plains. The second part of the book focuses on human engineering feats including dams, aqueducts, and indoor plumbing. Throughout the book, Outwater suggests that human interference with water ecosystems has had negative consequences, certainly on the water resources themselves, but also on the plants and creatures that rely on these habitats.