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BOOK REVIEW: "The World in a Grain" by Vince Beiser

Riverhead Books
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BOOK REVIEW: The World In a Grain: The Story of Sand and How it Transformed Civilization by Vince Beiser (Riverhead Books) 2018

The author Vince Beiser, an award-winning journalist based in Los Angeles, provides a complete investigation in four dimensions of the sand’s life as we know it today. The detailed history, geography, uses and actors involved shows how much sand industry has become indispensable in our civilization in less than a century. So much that there is not an industry, a country and a person that is not concerned by this tiny grain.

From the paved road to the glass to the smartphone to the skyscrapers where one work or to the newspaper one read, the uses of sand seem endless. From the hills of Wisconsin to the coast of Morocco to the Gobi Desert in China and Mongolia, sand seem unlimited.

Nevertheless as after air and water, sand is the most important resources in our civilization to such an extent that we are consuming more of it than oil. Such large amounts of money involved (over dozens of billions of dollars) have tempted many leading to corruption, the creation of sands mafia and murders of opponents.

However, the real victims are not limited to just a few opponents but to all people living close to a lake, river, along the coast and others locations where sand is extracted. It leads to the destruction of beautiful landscape endangering hundreds of species and putting human health and settlement at threat.

Beiser’s works invite the reader to reconsider its place in the society of ultra-consumption. How can we change the path of our civilization based on the consumption of limited resources without losing our way of life? How can we accept to destroy our planets just for our own comfort? These are one of the biggest issues our modern society is facing today.

The author albeit timidly, the subject by showing some possible alternative such increasing sharing goods and accommodation with the example of Uber and Airbnb (which shows very well that the author lives in California). But can we trust corporations to resolve the problem when so much money is involved?

In a meantime  The World in a Grain: The Story of Sand and How It Transformed Civilization is an indispensable book to add to your collection, especially if you thought that climate change was the only issue you have to worry about.

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Olivier Rey

Olivier has traveled in 20 countries on six continents before landing in Norman. Native French...

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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