Victor Mallet

Dam the Consequences

Unruly Waters: How Mountain Rivers and Monsoons Have Shaped South Asia’s History


Allen Lane 381pp £25 order from our bookshop

Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of independent India, was so enthused by hydroelectric dams that he called them the ‘new temples of India’. In Unruly Waters, Sunil Amrith tells the initially inspiring but ultimately melancholy tale of how the inhabitants and colonists of Asia, and of India in particular, moved from being in awe of nature and the beneficent but often destructive power of the monsoon, to gaining an understanding of the water cycle that nourishes the planet, to eventually developing a hubristic belief that they could utterly control natural resources to their own advantage.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter