From Morocco to Iran and the Black Sea to the Red, Water on Sand rewrites the history of the Middle East and North Africa from the Little Ice Age to the Cold War. As the first holistic environmental history of the region over the last half millennium, it shows the intimate connections between peoples and environments and how these relationships shaped political, economic, and social history in startling and unforeseen ways. Nearly all political powers in the region based their rule on the management and control of natural resources, and nearly all individuals were in constant communion with the natural world. To grasp how these multiple histories were central to the pasts of the Middle East and North Africa, the chapters in this book evidence the power of environmental history to open up new avenues of historical research and understanding. Water on Sand furthermore traces how the Middle East and North Africa deeply affected the global histories of climate, disease, trade, energy, environmental politics, ecological manipulation, and much more.
Lying at the intersection of three continents and as many seas, the Middle East has obviously been central to world history for millennia. Studying the ecological implications of these global connections, both for the region itself and for the rest of the world, helps to bring the Middle East and North Africa into global history and to show how the region must be an essential part of any understanding of the environments of Eurasia over the last five hundred years. Deeply researched, globally comparative, and highly provocative, Water on Sand represents both a new kind of Middle Eastern history and a new kind of environmental history.