281 pages, 41 b/w photos and b/w illustrations
For centuries travelers have been drawn to the stunning and mysterious Dead Sea and Jordan River, a region which is unlike any other on earth in its religious and historical significance. In this exceptionally engaging and readable book, Barbara Kreiger chronicles the natural and human history of these storied bodies of water, drawing on accounts by travelers, pilgrims, and explorers from ancient times to the present. She conveys the blend of spiritual, touristic, and scientific motivations that have driven exploration and describes the modern exploitation of the lake and the surrounding area through mineral extraction and agriculture. Today, both lake and river are in crisis, and stewardship of these water resources is bound up with political conflicts in the region. The Dead Sea and the Jordan River combines history, literature, travelogue, and natural history in a way that makes it hard to put down.
"When I set out to shoot a CNN documentary on the demise of holy water in the Holy Land, I scoured bookstores and search engines for the best resource material available. A few chapters into Barbara's work, I knew I'd found my definitive source. She kindly agreed to join our production as an expert and guide and from the wadis of Jordan to the top of Masada, we were fortunate to soak up her knowledge and passion. The Dead Sea is a place few people forget but often misunderstand. This book changes that dynamic, empowering explorers and pilgrims alike with insight and context."
– Bill Weir, CNN Anchor
"A rare natural, political, and human history [...] Remarkable and timely."
"A rare, full-bodied study [...] [that] combines fresh, imaginative writing and serious research. I cannot imagine another trip to this, the lowest point on earth, without the Kreiger book in hand."
– Baltimore Jewish Times
"Combines fresh, imaginative writing and serious research."
– Baltimore Sun
"The Jordan River and its terminal lake the Dead Sea have been on center stage of Middle East mythology, history, and politics for millennia. Barbara Kreiger's story of the modern day demise of these waters and the urgent need for their rehabilitation is a must-read for anyone that wants to understand the relevance of water issues to the continuing turmoil in the region."
– Gidon Bromberg, EcoPeace Middle East
"Kreiger's remarkable literary gifts enable the book to be ranked with the best of travelogues as she makes it possible for the reader to participate in all facets of the region, natural, human, and political, as they have unfolded from the earliest to the present times."
– Catholic Biblical Quarterly
"Students of the Middle East will doubtless find this exhaustive report on the history and geopolitical details of the Dead Sea and the Jordan River indispensable."
– Foreword Reviews
"The Dead Sea and the Jordan River may not be standard reading material for those interested in books about Israel but its format as part travelogue, part history, and part review of the challenges facing this unique natural phenomenon makes it hard to put down."
– The Times of Israel
"In its sweep of history, Kreiger's book conveys a powerful sense of how the world was once viewed, as a source of never-ending wonder tinged with divinity, how that view shifted to accommodate the curiosity we call science and above all how, throughout several inventive millennia, the practice of subjugation has scarcely changed."
– Times Literary Supplement
Part I. This Strange Water
1. Some Early History, Travellers, Myths
Part II. Nineteenth-Century Exploration
2. Three Sailors, and a River
3. Along the Briny Strand
Part III. Origins and Evolution
4. The Life of a Lake
Part IV. Further Exploration
5. Gentleman from Siberia
6. A Lake Divided
Part V. The Twenty-First Century
7. The River and Lake in Distress
8. Reclamation, and a Vision of the Future
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Barbara Kreiger is Creative Writing Concentration Chair and Adjunct Associate Professor in the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program at Dartmouth College. Her other publications include Divine Expectations: An American Woman in Nineteenth-Century Palestine. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Smithsonian Magazine, and other publications.