The Erosion of Civilizations
by David Montgomery
S590.7 .M66 2007
New Book Island, 2nd floor
There aren’t many times when you look at the books on the shelves and see dirt (dust, maybe – dirt, no), but that’s the topic of this week’s featured book.
Montgomery, professor of earth and space sciences at the University of Washington, opens his book by relating his experience of falling into boiling quicksand in the Philippines. As he recalls, “Few things can make you feel as helpless as when the earth gives way beneath your feet.” He goes onto examine the civilizations of Mesopotamia, Greece, the Roman Empire, China, European colonialism, Central America and the American West and the use and abuse of dirt. He finds that we’re actually running out of dirt, albeit it slowly. With chapter titles like ‘Westward Hoe’ and ‘Dirty Business,’ this book will definitely open your eyes to a whole new way of thinking about what supports you and the world.