Dams have displaced between forty and eighty million people around the world, and have shifted so much weight that geophysicists believe they have slightly altered the speed of the earth's rotations, the tilt of its axis, and the shape of its gravitational field. In Deep Water, Jacques Leslie dramatizes their huge social and environmental consequences by depicting three people as they contend with dams. Medha Patkar, the world's foremost anti-dam activist, went on hunger strikes of up to 26 days and tried to drown herself in rising reservoir waters to protest construction of the massive Sardar Sarovar Dam in western India. Thayer Scudder, an American anthropologist considered the world's leading authority on dam resettlement, traced the devastating impact of dam-imposed relocation on the Tonga people of Zambia over half a century. And Don Blackmore, a water resources manager who for a decade and a half presided over Australia's only major river system, the severely depleted Murray-Darling, struggled to persuade farmers and politicians to return water to the river to give it a chance of survival.
In portraying these three people at work, Leslie places dams' consequences in an accessible, richly detailed human context.