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Publisher's Summary

Dirt, soil, call it what you want, it's everywhere we go. It is the root of our existence, supporting our feet, our farms, our cities. This fascinating yet disquieting book finds, however, that we are running out of dirt, and it's no laughing matter. An engaging natural and cultural history of soil that sweeps from ancient civilizations to modern times, Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations explores the compelling idea that we are, and have long been, using up Earth's soil. Once bare of protective vegetation and exposed to wind and rain, cultivated soils erode bit by bit, slowly enough to be ignored in a single lifetime but fast enough over centuries to limit the lifespan of civilizations. 

A rich mix of history, archaeology and geology, Dirt traces the role of soil use and abuse in the history of Mesopotamia, Ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, China, European colonialism, Central America, and the American push westward. We see how soil has shaped us and we have shaped soil?as society after society has risen, prospered, and plowed through a natural endowment of fertile dirt. David R. Montgomery sees in the recent rise of organic and no-till farming the hope for a new agricultural revolution that might help us avoid the fate of previous civilizations.

©2012 David R. Montgomery (P)2018 Echo Point Books & Media, LLC

What listeners say about Dirt

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Amazing and eye opening!

detailed how human activities destroyed soil in ancient times - got to change the direction if we don't want the same to happen nowadays. definitely recommend!!!

"a nation which destroys it's soil destroys itself"

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Seriously informative

I bought it to learn about soil and am glad I listened to the whole book. It took me through many countries and the devestating effects civilization has had on soil. We must take heed and change farming practices and practice restorative methods or face the consequenses.

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  • Emeline
  • 05-10-2018

Will forever change the way I farm.

Here is not only a history of civilizations’ soils, but also a manual for how to feed the earth’s present and future. Just the right blend of science, history, humor, and practical down-to-earth (as it were) advice for how to garden on your farm/garden/urban flower pot in a way that respects the tiny sliver of usable dirt that supports all our lives and dreams.

The narration is measured, articulate, and well paced to absorbing concepts which might be new and sometimes confusing to non-scientists.

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  • Roy Pfaltzgraff
  • 20-11-2019

Highly recommended if you care about your food

As a farmer soil is my bread and butter, it is the source of life all around us. This book is a fascinating study of how soil and civilizations are tied and what lessons we need to learn from history before we become history.

I will say there are a couple things in the book that are off such as “no-till” farming mean at least 30% of the residue remains. No-till means NO tillage period, it is challenging to do initially but it is vital to maintain soil structure created by the plants and microorganisms. We have Ben 100% no-till for 20 years and will never go back for anything.

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  • James
  • 11-02-2021

Must read!

Absolutely amazing narrative of soil and it's intricate link to human civilization throughout history up to the present.

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  • Carlos Becerra
  • 02-09-2020

Great book for anyone wanting to learn about soil

Love this book! This book goes into fascinating detail of soils importance to societies.

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  • Anders H.
  • 25-01-2020

A must read to understand the life cycle of civilizations and how to preserve our society

Might be a bit long, and when the tenth civilization dies you sort of know the mechanisms already. Thank god he had found some good but very harsh examples of the opposite.

That said. Everything you learnt in school about the death of the Roman Empire, the Greeks and even today’s USA is not about what you have been taught.

It’s a must read if you think the current climate crisis is a problem. It’s actually much worse and history keeps repeating. With or without global warming.

Read it, I got a very new perspective on these things.

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  • Steven Ray Hill
  • 11-09-2019

Excellent book!

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in a sustainable regenerative way of life.

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  • Matus
  • 20-07-2019

important book to read

just read it. life needs living soil and everyone shoul be aware od it. this is story of erosion. and we can still change the course

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  • Paul
  • 12-07-2019

Allow yourself time

I was expecting an esoteric dry book but as it progressed and as the ultimate destination identified itself I enjoyed it more and more. Give yourself a few chapters and realize what the over arching plan is. Excellent book

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  • Robert Loy
  • 24-05-2019

Should be mandatory reading

Should be mandatory reading in all high schools. I love the way he tells the story of our greatest resource.

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  • Rob
  • 05-02-2019

Slow to start but...

As a fan of civilations and history the connection to soil was an enlightning link. The book was a bit repeatative in the beginning but I listened thru to get to the good stuff.

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  • marion
  • 31-07-2020

Educational

Educational but not enthralling, worth a listen.
It backs up other books on this subject rather than hitting new ground

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  • hogblower
  • 20-06-2020

A book everyone needs to read

An amazing insight into what is actually important, this knowledge should be taught in schools and should be the basis for the environmental movement moving forward

In the spirit of reconciliation, Audible Australia acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.