Top critical review
Informative, but with a nasty hidden agenda
Reviewed in the United States on June 4, 2014
Several reviewers have complained about the repetitive verbiage in this book, what I have come to realize is that this is a tactic authors use to hide the nastiness of a subtle agenda. (Not to mention that they can blame erroneous statements, and ugly expressed opinions on poor/lack of editing) It's the "Bury them in B.S." tactic. In this age of short-attention spans, people often skim through a book, get the highlights, and then commence to rave about how wonderful the book is.
Solomon writes on pg. 283: "...with his [Eli Whitney] 1793 invention of the cotton gin...overnight cotton became a thriving cash crop of the American South, reviving the waning institution of slavery...". Waning? Really? The importation of slave labor was not illegal until 1808. And what about the slaves used for rice cultivation in the Carolinas; or the slaves working on tobacco in Virginia? This nation fought its bloodiest war (before Vietnam) because the planter class was determined to retain the slaves that were the status symbol of the time. Waning, hardly.
If you believe that a benevolent, barely-regulated free market is the way to avoid water shortages in the future, this is the book for you. Solomon makes his case for the privatization of water (pg. 490): "Better---more pragmatic---odds of success surely lie with greater reliance upon the self-interested, profit motive of individuals organized by the politically indifferent market anchored in a pricing mechanism for valuing water that reflects both the full cost of sustaining ecosystems through externally imposed environmental standards and a social fairness guarantee for everyone to receive at affordable cost the minimum amounts necessary for their basic needs". Translation: Leave it up to individuals (motivated by greed), to "guarantee" (more or less) that everyone will be allowed to purchase (not free) a "minimum" amount of water (amount to be decided by him and his class?), at an "affordable" price (affordable to be defined by him and his class?).
I did gain one insight from the book,. Some people thought the U.S. attacked Iraq for its oil; I thought the U.S. attacked Iraq in order to destroy its military thereby enabling an unimpeded air strike against Iran by Israel. Solomon's book suggests another possibility: "The desert nations of the Arabian Peninsula and Libya, as well as arid Israel and Palestine, outgrew their internal water resources for sustainable food self-sufficiency in the 1950s" (pg.384); "Some 98 percent of Euphrates water originates in Turkey, before passing through Syria and on to Iraq and the Persian Gulf" (pg. 408).
Clues that a book is promulgating "B.S".: the story is told non-linearly, leading the reader to confuse and conflate unrelated "facts"; "Notes" instead of "Footnotes", creates the illusion of scholarly rigor.