Starting with some well-chosen facts--such as that 97 percent of the world's water lies in oceans; it takes 2,300 gallons of Water to produce a pound of beef protein--and estimates that the world population and per capita use of water will both double in the next 35 years, Roy Popkin drives home the vital point that the world's water is in short supply and something must be done now. Something has been done in Israel, in off-rich Kuwait, in Saudi Arabia and other scattered parts of the world, and the author's summary of the pay-off to agriculture, industry, and man is cool testimony of the effectiveness of desalination techniques. Writing in a smooth journalistic style that is impressively documented and unsullied by passionate claims or pleas--he does not ignore the problems of accumulation and disposal of salt and other waste effects--the author manages to make his subject fascinating and his case convincing. The basic problem with man is his thoughtless extravagance. He has little idea of the cost of water and how prodigal is his use of it. Only where severe drought is a constant threat, as in the Middle East, in India, and in the U.S. Southwest, have people begun to think seriously about conservation and reclamation techniques. Shortsightedness (even the RAND Corporation saw little future for desalting in a document prepared in 1960), political interests, ignorance and do-nothing attitudes have prevailed generally. Popkin's realistic survey is an impressive counterforce to mass inertia.