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    By: Philip Ball

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    "The Water Kingdom takes us on a grand journey through China's past and present offering a unique window through which we can begin to grasp the overwhelming complexity and teeming energy of the country and its people. Water is a key that unlocks much of Chinese history and thought. The ubiquitous and ambivalent relationship that the Chinese people have had with water has made it a powerful and versatile metaphor for philosophical thought and artistic expression. The importance of water for agriculture, transport and social stability has made it a central element of political power, from the Han emperors to Mao. The ability to manage the waters:to provide irrigation and defend against floods :became a barometer of political legitimacy, and attempts to do so have involved engineering works on a gigantic scale. Yet today burgeoning economic growth is placing unprecedented pressure on China's water resources. The Water Kingdom takes us on a different kind of journey from that of Marco Polo, which still sets the tenor of many Western accounts in presenting China as a place of astonishing size and strangeness. Our guides are instead Chinese travellers and explorers, po

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