Other than air, the only substance more vital to life is water. Our bodies brim with it, and if we’re deprived of it for even a few days, the results can be fatal. Our planet, too, is mostly water, with oceans across approximately seventy percent of its surface. But potable water has in many times and places been a scarce resource, and with Water, Ian Miller traces the history of our relationship with drinking water—our attempts to find it, keep it clean, and make it widely available.
Miller’s history ranges widely, from ancient times to the present, exploring all the many ways that we’ve rendered water palatable—from boiling it for tea or distilling it as part of alcoholic beverages to piping it from springs, bubbles and all. He covers the histories of water treatment and supply, belief in its medicinal powers, and much more, all supported by fascinating historical illustrations. As access to fresh water becomes an ever more potent problem worldwide, Miller’s book is a fascinating reminder of our long engagement with this most vital fluid.