The ganges

Our rivers, as much as our oceans, are in urgent need of protection

Geography can be history and history geography — and sometimes the most obvious things are overlooked. Laurence C. Smith’s Rivers of Power endeavours to make us see beneath the surfaces of arterial waters and consider them as carriers of civilisation and arbiters of destinies. Rivers are elemental and ambivalent. They are frontiers and highways, destroyers and fertilisers, fishing grounds and spiritual metaphors, power-givers and flushers of poisons. They are the veins of terrains, which like our own veins carry oxygen or pathogens, and extinction when they fail. They inspired Babylonian and Roman legal codes, outlining ideas about access, drainage, fishing, irrigation, maintenance, navigation, pollution and sharing that still course through