The fact that the Middle East has a glut of oil and a shortage of water does not a link-up make--to the effect that ""the balance between the supplies of these two valuable liquids. . . is a problem of crucial importance."" On the surface, though, it provides an excuse for a book. Swanson, however, is very sketchy on the water-supply problem (omitting the Jordan River project, obscuring the specific ill-effects of the Aswan High Dam, explaining no desalination process); what he describes in detail is the other, familiar part of the non-equation--how oil is located, extracted, processed, transported, etc. True, these descriptions refer to conditions in the Middle East; they are also accompanied by diagrams. But this technical data is itself out-of-kilter with the balance of this slim, slight, young-looking book--which is bulked out, indicatively, with one of those ubiquitous lists of the manifold uses of petroleum.