Rivers have played an extraordinarily important role in creating the world in which we live. They create landscapes and provide water to people, plants and animals, nourishing both town and country. The flow of rivers has enthused poets and painters, explorers and pilgrims. Rivers have acted as cradles for civilization and agents of disaster; a river may be a barrier or a highway, it can bear trade and sediment, culture and conflict. A river may inspire or it may terrify.
This Very Short Introduction is a celebration of rivers in all their diversity. Nick Middleton covers a wide and eclectic range of river-based themes, from physical geography to mythology, to industrial history and literary criticism. Worshipped and revered, respected and feared, rivers reflect both the natural and social history of our planet.
1: Nature's driver
2: Strong brown gods
3: Liquid histories
4: Roads that move
5: Rearranged rivers
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Nick Middleton is a geographer, writer, and presenter of television documentaries. He teaches at Oxford University where he is a Fellow of St Anne's College. He has written more than 200 articles and 20 books for a variety of audiences, most on geographical, travel, or environmental themes, including "Deserts: A Very Short Introduction" (2009). His experience of rivers is wide-ranging. He has floated down the Mekong and water skied on the Congo, bird-watched in the Danube delta and driven the length of the lower Mississippi. His daily relationship with the Thames is close and personal.