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Publisher's Summary

Dirt, soil, call it what you want - it'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 are - and have long been - using up Earth's soil. Once pared 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 how we have shaped soil - as 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 hope for a new agricultural revolution that might help us avoid the fate of previous civilizations. The book is published by University of California Press.

©2007 The Regents of the University of California (P)2011 Redwood Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"Anyone interested in environmental issues should read this book.... [It] entertains and stimulates thought." (Times Higher Education Supplement, UK)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Turns out there's a lot to learn about dirt

Dirt is both a facinating history of the stuff under our feet and a good education about how it's created, weathered away, drained or suplimented with nutrients and how human horticultural practices have effected it throughout time.

There are 3 clear sections to the book, the middle of which did seem to drag on repeating the same story over and over again. In fairness to the author though this is more an inditement of our farming practices over the centuries than to his writing style.

Well read and well researched this book is a great starting place for anyone interested in soil. You may even develop some enthusiasm on the subject and go and build yourself a Worm Farm and a compost heap!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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I am disappointed in the audio narration

NB I have not listened to the whole book. I am considering returning the audiobook because the narrator has a nearly robotic cadence and inflection that has not changed in the first hour and a half. I really want to read this book, as I have had it recommended to me more than once. This narrator has convinced me so far that HE isn't very interested in the topic, but I am. It's making it difficult to follow the topic at hand. As I have much more time available to listen than read text, I'll give him another chapter before I decide whether to return it and get the text version of this book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Tim
  • United States
  • 09-15-13

More Than Just Dirt

"Dirt" is something that I wanted to read for a long time. I find this kind of information to be interesting, but not necessary to know. My brain drives on facts and figures that doesn't start conversations at parties. David R. Montgomery writes this book like a term paper, where he is defending his thesis. Montgomery uses topsoil, erosion, and calcification to explain the history of agriculture and our need for farming as the population expands. Basically, Montgomery raises the issues of not having enough soil to keep up with the demands. Pretty much we are running out of dirt to farm and need to find another way to grow our crops.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Allison
  • LINCOLN, NE, United States
  • 02-05-12

not my cup of tea. . .surprisingly

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No.

Any additional comments?

As a geologist/biologist I expected to be keenly interested in this book. The comprehensive historical survey lost me, however, and it became somewhat tedious to listen to the many examples. This may have been a better

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • KTP
  • Buffalo Gap, TX United States
  • 09-28-11

Dirt

Thought this was a really good book. I have a leaning towards ag and sustainable ag so I was very interested in the concepts brought forward. I have to admit while the exhaustion of the topsoil may not be the sole cause of some of the societies downfall, the thoughts brought forward make you think it played an important role.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Thought Provoking

This book makes you think very differently about something as simple as the dirt under our feet. It gives the reader an all new appreciation of this valuable and irreplaceable resource. It helps you look differently at the world around us and our impact on it.

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For all eco activists- a must read

Incredibly thorough, a perfect historical analysis of soil degradation over the span of history and its role in the degradation of civilization along with it.

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Send a copy to Congress!

Speak to the Earth, and it shall teach the. - Job 12; 8

Imperative Reading

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Great history we need to learn from the start learning fast!

The book was excellent, people ALL people should start being concern. We can grow food and improve the soil, and become regenerative. We have to want too. Money and greed is in the way, of do the right thing today.

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I wish we could make this compulsory reading

Brilliant discussion about a topic vital to our collective survival, and very accessible and easy to listen to, despite the esoteric focus and rather modest title.

Highly recommended to anyone interested in culture, history, biological sciences, farming practices throughout the world, sustainable or restorative farming, gardening, or any aspect of environmental protection.

Loved it.

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  • m
  • 07-20-15

Very thought provoking

Great listen it's full of interesting information.
I good reminder how important our soil is to humanity.

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  • mr
  • 05-10-15

Recommend

Great book. A bit of a slow start and the narrator is a bit monotone but excellent none the less.