Rivers of Power
How a Natural Force Raised Kingdoms, Destroyed Civilizations, and Shapes Our World
A sweeping natural history of rivers as engines of civilization
Rivers, more than any road, technology or political event, have shaped the course of civilization.
In Rivers of Power, geographer Laurence C. Smith tells the sweeping story of rivers and how they made us. Rivers have opened frontiers, defined borders, supported trade, generated energy and fed billions. Most of our greatest cities stand on river banks or deltas, and our quest for mastery has spurred staggering advances in engineering, science and law. Rivers and their topographic divides have shaped the territories of nations and the migration of peoples, and yet - as their resources become ever more precious - can foster cooperation even among enemy states. And though they are increasingly domesticated, they remain a formidable global force: these vast arterial powers promote life but are capable of destroying everything in their path.
From ancient Egypt to the space age to our growing contemporary metropolises, Rivers of Power reveals why rivers matter so profoundly to human civilization, and how they continue to be indispensable to our societies and wellbeing.