Bottlemania: How Water Went on Sale and Why We Bought It by Elizabeth Royte


NY Times Book Review Front Page Review: "The facile answer is marketing, marketing and more marketing, but Elizabeth Royte goes much deeper into the drink, streaming trends cultural, economic, political and hydrological into an engaging investigation of an unexpectedly murky substance." --Lisa Margonelli Read the review.

Cody Doctorow, "A balanced, nuanced, entertaining and vastly informative look at the crisis of water -- bottled and tap -- in the USA. [P]enetrating ... a compelling critique."Read the whole review

Time Out Chicago: " intriguing look at a totem of the ultramodern, perhaps selfish, way we live now." Read the review.

Very Short List pick-of-the day for May 21, 2008: "The hydrovore's dilemma: An essential, if somewhat disturbing, read." Read the review.

BookPage: "An intrepid, intelligent analysis of Americans’ raging thirst for bottled water." Read the review.

Seed: "... a meticulously researched yet lively account sure to earn this issue its overdue attention."

"[A] timely, densely reported but also very readable and distressing examination of the way we drink....Through the microcosm of Fryeburg, it becomes clear that this book is not about figuring out which form of water is better, tap or bottled . . . The real issue here is the commodification and manipulation of our most essential natural resource. The reader comes away with the creepy notion that every last clean drop on the planet is already accounted for - either being muddied with pollutants and then zapped with disinfectants by municipal systems, or pumped and sold as a luxury item." Abe Streep, San Francisco Chronicle Read the review

"Like her previous book, "Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash," this tautly paced volume more closely resembles a travel narrative than a tree-hugging jeremiad. Royte doesn't traffic in platitudes, moral certainties or oversimplification; she's unafraid of ambiguity. Seamlessly blending scientific explanation and social observation, she pursues the course of Poland Spring back to its source in Fryeburg, Maine." --Mark Coleman, Los Angeles Times Read the review.

"ON THE BOTTLE: Aside from being a well-told tale, Elizabeth Royte’s Bottlemania: How Water Went on Sale and Why We Bought It provides a succinct history of bottled water and how it came to be a force in the beverage industry. She also fully explores the social, political, and ecological connotations of drinking water from a bottle. This quest is set against the backdrop of a battle between Poland Spring and Fryeburg, a Maine town whose water fills the company’s bottles. Royte shows us that complicated water issues are not only unfolding in parched western states, and that water-use laws will only grow in significance as clean sources dry up. After exploring the privatizing of a resource that has traditionally been publicly managed in the U.S., the author draws her own conclusions. Instead of succumbing to clever marketing, buying pretty labels or trying to be hip, she says her water decisions will reflect the understanding that bottled water is an unnecessary indulgence that’s contributing to the major social and environmental problems of our time." --B.C., E! Magazine

"Water. It's the essence of life, the main component of our bodies and our planet. It's free and seemingly accessible-yet millions of Americans pay for bottles of it every day. Environmental author Royte (Garbage Land; The Tapir's Morning Bath) discusses the historical, political, environmental, moral, and even culinary aspects of water. In a journalistic and often humorous manner, she recounts her travels to natural springs and the towns torn apart by their presence and her meetings with water executives and hydrogeologists while discussing the modern implications of the bottle vs. the tap. The story that emerges is an interesting one-there are enough backroom deals to make the plot seem fitting of the film Michael Clayton. Readers will be surprised at the many facets of the story of bottled water, and the blend of narrative with historical fact keeps the book compelling and dynamic. For those inspired to find out more about their water, Royte includes an appendix of Internet resources and a selected bibliography for further reading. Recommended for all public libraries and academic libraries with environmental science programs." --Jaime Hammond, Library Journal

Explore Elizabeth's water links.

Read more about Garbage Land and The Tapir's Morning Bath.

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