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Pillar of Sand: Can the Irrigation Miracle Last?
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Pillar of Sand: Can the Irrigation Miracle Last?

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  33 ratings  ·  7 reviews
For 6,000 years, irrigation has ranked among the most powerful tools of human advancement. The story of settled agriculture, the growth of cities, and the rise of early empires is, to no small degree, a story of controlling water to make the land more prosperous and habitable. Pillar of Sand examines the history, challenges, and pitfalls of irrigated agriculture — from anc ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published July 17th 1999 by W. W. Norton Company
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really liked it 4.00  · 
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 ·  33 ratings  ·  7 reviews


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Richard Reese
Mar 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Pillar of Sand, by Sandra Postel, is spellbinding book about everyone’s favorite subject, irrigation. It discusses the history of irrigation, the numerous serious problems, and the theoretical solutions — many of which seem to be economically or politically impossible. The general health of irrigated agriculture is worrisome, and so is its future. Feeding ten billion a few decades from now is not going to be a piece of cake.

The benefits of irrigation enabled the development of many civilizations
...more
M Harris
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
When I first picked up this book, I was worried that it would be a bit too technical, but I still found it interesting and very readable. I now look forward to reading Lost Oasis, the book which preceded this, sometime in the future.
Gavin
Sep 11, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: africa
Postel does a pretty good job synthesizing a ton of papers and presenting the situation in a manner readable by scientists, farmers, and even politicians. It definitely could've flowed better and been a bit more personal though: the writing felt very listy and lifeless at times. But I learned a ton about soil salinification, multinational hydropolitics, and microirrigation solutions for the third world (so cool), to name a few. In the end her outlook is grim. I would love to see an update by her ...more
Marcelv
Jan 15, 2010 rated it liked it
An interesting read which reinforces the fragility of nature. Irrigation is very important in keeping a large proportion of the globe fed. That's why it still comes as a surprise in this book that we keep repeating the mistakes of our forefathers (thousands of years back even) when it comes to irrigation.

A large number of "cases" is covered, not just the expected disasters (like the Aral Sea). Near the end of the book it becomes a bit too preachy. I would have preferred the author to stick with
...more
Bea
Mar 10, 2011 rated it liked it
I learned a lot about the big global picture of irrigation. She has lots of facts both on a global summary level and a smaller case study level. I also like the way she ties in the history of irrigation and its pitfalls to what may happen in the future. Very interesting stuff!
Francisco Valdes
Jun 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A readable and not yet dated view on our freshwater problems by one of the great analyst in the matter.
rodney
Sep 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
One of the most importat books I have ever read during my seventy years. Should be required reading for all military officers, Congressmen, Governors, and college students.
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