The Complex And Surprising History Of Humanity And Water

NPR’s Ari Shapiro speaks with author Giulio Boccaletti about his new book Water: A Biography, which takes readers through the complex and surprising history of humanity and water.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST: What is the one thing that has shaped the course of human civilization more than any other? Well, according to the author Giulio Boccaletti, the answer is water. The title of his new book is "Water: A Biography." It travels over centuries, across continents to show how humans have built their lives around this fickle, precious resource.

Giulio Boccaletti, welcome to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

GIULIO BOCCALETTI: Thank you – great to be here.

SHAPIRO: This is one of the most ambitious books that I’ve read in a long time. It is both deep and broad. You’ve spent your life researching water, working at universities, consulting firms, NGOs. What made you think that this history of human civilization through the lens of water was the book that needed to be written right now?

BOCCALETTI: Well, I thought so. I hope so. One of the pathologies of water debates is that they tend to be very sort of technological. You end up having discussions about desalination, about, you know, […]