Heart of Dryness: A New Book and Interview from James G. Workman

Heart of Dryness, a new book by James G. Workman, is a nonfiction narrative that examines the growing world water crisis against the backdrop of the struggle and survival of Africa’s Bushmen in the face of water scarcity and perpetual drought.

Workman’s book is an account of his journey to interview and meet the Bushmen who live in Africa’s Kalahari Desert and live in extreme heat with little available water. He begins with a story about Botswana government trucks dismantling and destroying the government pump and reservoirs that the thousand remaining Bushmen had used and the refusal of the Bushmen to leave the land.

Photo Credit: sjorfordBushmen in Africa
Bushmen in Africa

In this great interview about his motivations and perspectives, Workman is asked, “What drew you to water?” He begins his answer:

“As a journalist, I learned to follow the money. As you trace economic power to its source, you discover that water infuses our bloodstream and brain, our food, our electricity, our politics.”


You can also read the introduction of the book Heart of Dryness. Workman has worked as a journalist and water use adviser for publications and governments all over the world and I expect the book to bring both context and suggestions and I am excited to see that he is approaching the issue with a hunt for solutions.

I read the introduction and will certainly be buying the book. One passage stuck out with a compelling anecdotal statistic:

“When Europeans first arrived I North America, fewer people consumed less water. The New World held at most 14 million noncentralized people, each annually using perhaps 100 gallons each year. Today each of 300 million Americans consumes on average a daily 150 gallons, plus another 5,000 gallons indirectly through food or industrialized goods.” (Heart of Dryness, Introduction, page 8)

He also records a personal realization after trying to interview a Bushman matriarch about how she will manage to get to the rainy season. He discerns from her silence,

“We don’t manage water. Water manages us.”

The book was published on August 4 and is available through Amazon for under $20.00.

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