The World in a Grain: The Story of Sand and How It Transformed Civilization

The World in a Grain: The Story of Sand and How It Transformed Civilization

The gripping story of the most important overlooked commodity in the world--sand--and the crucial role it plays in our lives.

After water and air, sand is the natural resource that we consume more than any other--even more than oil. Every concrete building and paved road on Earth, every computer screen and silicon chip, is made from sand. From Egypt's pyramids to the Hubble telescope, from the world's tallest skyscraper to the sidewalk below it, from Chartres' stained-glass windows to your iPhone, sand shelters us, empowers us, engages us, and inspires us. It's the ingredient that makes possible our cities, our science, our lives--and our future.

And, incredibly, we're running out of it.

The World in a Grain is the compelling true story of the hugely important and diminishing natural resource that grows more essential every day, and of the people who mine it, sell it, build with it--and sometimes, even kill for it. It's also a provocative examination of the serious human and environmental costs incurred by our dependence on sand, which has received little public attention. Not all sand is created equal: Some of the easiest sand to get to is the least useful. Award-winning journalist Vince Beiser delves deep into this world, taking readers on a journey across the globe, from the United States to remote corners of India, China, and Dubai to explain why sand is so crucial to modern life. Along the way, readers encounter world-changing innovators, island-building entrepreneurs, desert fighters, and murderous sand pirates. The result is an entertaining and eye-opening work, one that is both unexpected and involving, rippling with fascinating detail and filled with surprising characters.

Title:The World in a Grain: The Story of Sand and How It Transformed Civilization
ISBN:9780399576423
Format Type:

    The World in a Grain: The Story of Sand and How It Transformed Civilization Reviews

  • Dan

    Ah sand. Who would have thought it could be the subject of such an interesting book? The exploitation of sand as a resource has been going on for a very long time but about 75 years ago with the boom ...

  • Karen

    As if there isn't enough to worry about with the over population of the world...just wait until you delve through this one which is a real eye-opener on just what humans (the most invasive species of ...

  • Karen Fierman

    This is THE best nonfiction book I've read in a LONG time! I'm a person who's not very interested in things science/nature/technology, so it was rather a fluke that I even read it in the first place, ...

  • Peter Mcloughlin

    Sand after Air and Water is the item consumed by civilization in the greatest quantities. Its uses include concrete, glass, silicon chips, island building, water purification, etc. It is ubiquitous. ...

  • ?Kimari?

    You might also enjoy:✱ The Disappearing Spoon✱ Concrete Planet✱ Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations✱ A Grain of Sand: Nature's Secret Wonder✱ The Immeasurable World: Journeys in Desert Places...

  • Claudia

    I never even heard of sand pirates much less imagined it was a thing.But apparently it is. Sand is one of the most utilized substances in the world and this book goes into some of the more extensive u...

  • David

    This really blew my mind on the importance of sand. It seems like one of those bottomless resources--we have whole deserts of sands, for crying out loud. But not only is it not bottomless, we don't ev...

  • David Quinn

    I haven't read any reviews but I suspect most will boil down to the same point - Who knew sand was so prominent in our lives? Having read and enjoyed the book I'm now seeing sand everywhere I look. Th...

  • Jim Goodrich

    A fascinating and horrifying book about a subject I never really though much about before. It turns out that not all sand is created equally, and the good stuff is being consumed at a crazy pace. Sand...

  • Agne

    Maybe I shouldn't have read this, because there goes my last bit of optimism :D This is the scariest book I have ever read. It's not like with fossil fuels where I know we have alternatives that we ca...