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Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations

by David R Montgomery University of California Press
Pub Date:
04/2012
ISBN:
9780520272903
Format:
Pbk 296 pages
Price:
AU$49.99 NZ$52.17
Product Status: Available in Approx 14 days
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Dirt, soil, call it what you wantit's everywhere we go. It is the root of our existence, supporting our feet, our farms, our cities. This fascinating yet disquieting book finds, however, that we are running out of dirt, and it's no laughing matter. An engaging natural and cultural history of soil that sweeps from ancient civilizations to modern times, Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations explores the compelling idea that we areand have long beenusing up Earth's soil. Once bare of protective vegetation and exposed to wind and rain, cultivated soils erode bit by bit, slowly enough to be ignored in a single lifetime but fast enough over centuries to limit the lifespan of civilizations. A rich mix of history, archaeology and geology, Dirt traces the role of soil use and abuse in the history of Mesopotamia, Ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, China, European colonialism, Central America, and the American push westward. We see how soil has shaped us and we have shaped soilas society after society has risen, prospered, and plowed through a natural endowment of fertile dirt. David R. Montgomery sees in the recent rise of organic and no-till farming the hope for a new agricultural revolution that might help us avoid the fate of previous civilizations.

PREFACE TO THE 20I2 EDITION
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I  GOOD OLD DIRT
2  SKIN OF THE EARTH
3  RIVERS OF LIFE
4  GRAVEYARD OF EMPIRES
5  LET THEM EAT COLONIES
6  WESTWARD HOE
7  DUST BLOW
8  DIRTY BUSINESS
9  ISLANDS IN TIME
IO  LIFE SPAN OF CIVILIZATIONS

NOTES
BIBLIOGRAPHY
INDEX

GÇ£Sounds an ever timely and necessary clarion call.n++?
David R. Montgomery, Professor of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington, is author of King of Fish: The Thousand-Year Run of Salmon.