I finally was able to take this book out of the library (again) and finish it, given the reading time I have on the train.  It is an impressive history of the world through the lens of water in its many forms: water for transport, for power, for drinking, for sanitation, and for ecosystems.  At points it felt like a stretch to talk about water in its many uses as the same historical link in this manner, but the book was nonetheless entertaining and informative.  The final section of the book, which talks about our modern water-shortage problems due to population growth, wasteful and inefficient usage, and poor management, is pretty depressing: many countries are looking at running out of water in several decades!

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