Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Review of Aqua Shock: The Water Crisis in America


Susan J. Marks’ Aqua Shock: The Water Crisis in America certainly addresses an important topic, one that has been receiving attention in the Great Plains for at least the past fifteen to twenty years and one that has recently been receiving attention nationwide. The book itself presents the information about this dwindling resource but largely seems to be a compendium of what can be found on the Internet about the topic. One thing the book lacks is a strong narrative. It isn’t necessary to include anecdotes from the author’s experience, but as a reader I would like to see the author relating her impressions and observations as she travels to those various locations that are representative of the water crisis in this country. The inclusion of bulleted information quickly becomes tiring and frustrating. In including quotations from various authorities, Marks gives the impression of having interviewed people like “Bill Waldrop, a Tennessee-based hydrologist who has been studying water and environmental quality issues since the early 1970’s” or “Hugh Hurlow, senior geologist for the Utah Geological Survey.” The Chapter Notes, however, don’t reference these interviews and are simply a list of Internet sites, which causes one to believe that Marks has pulled these quotes from those links without having picked up the phone or having made a trip away from her computer. I have to wonder, too, what audience Marks is addressing. Early in the book, she defines words like aquifer as “underground water supplies,” peninsula, “meaning that it is surrounded on three sides by water,” and brackish, “salty,” but doesn’t define a word like desalination, which I suspect needs to be defined if the intended audience isn’t familiar with a word as common as peninsula. Perhaps Aqua Shock: The Water Crisis in America is meant only for libraries so that someone needing the research can pull information from one or two chapters to satisfy a school assignment.