"We don't govern water. Water governs us," writes James Workman. In Heart of Dryness, he chronicles the memorable, cautionary tale of the famed Bushmen of the Kalahari - remnants of one of the world's most successful civilizations, today at the exact epicenter of Africa's drought - and their remarkable, widely publicized battle over water with the government of Botswana, to explore the larger story of what many feel is becoming the primary resource battleground of the 21st century: water.
The Bushmen's story may well prefigure our own. Even the most upbeat optimists concede the U.S. now faces an unprecedented water crisis. Large dams on the Colorado River, which serve 30 million in 7 states, will be dry in 13 years. Southeast drought cut Tennessee Valley Authority hydropower in half, exposed Lake Okeechobee's floor, dried $787 million of Georgia's crops, and left Atlanta with 60 days of water. Cities east and west are drying up. As reservoirs and aquifers fail, officials ration water, neighbors snitch on one another, corporations move in, and states fight states to control shared rivers. Each year, inadequate water kills more humans than AIDS, malaria, and all wars combined. Global leaders pray for rain. Bushmen tap more pragmatic solutions. James Workman illuminates the present and coming tensions we will all face over water and shows how, from the remoteness of the Kalahari, a primitive (by our standards) people is showing the world a viable path through the encroaching desert of the coming Dry Age.