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Wounded Tigris: A River Journey through the Cradle of Civilisation

Leon McCarron

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Travel writing

Leon McCarron takes us on fascinating journey down the Tigris River, full of incredible history and beautiful photography.

For thousands of years, the Tigris has acted as a lung exhaling life into Mesopotamia. Its cycles of flooding created seasons of plenty and seasons of scarcity. Water was once everywhere, from the northern mountains to the southern marshlands. But it is now beginning to falter, becoming clogged and erratic, and the changing climate is bringing environmental instability to the countries that rely on it.

During the pandemic, in 2020, Leon McCarron travelled from the source of this great river in the Turkish highlands, through northern Syria, into the heart of Iraq, and all the way to the Persian Gulf, moving downstream through the Cradle of Civilisation. Passing through settlements of the old world - some of which are now industrial hubs - McCarron talks to the inhabitants of cities like Diyarbakir, Mosul, Baghdad, Samarra and Basra, and asks them what it is like to live there now.

Today almost 30 million people live in the watershed of the Tigris, but the river faces existential threats on multiple fronts. In Wounded Tigris, McCarron takes the reader on a fascinating journey from source to mouth, whilst also telling the incredible history of the varied lands the Tigris runs through, via encounters with the fascinating people whose own survival is often entwined with that of the river. Accompanied by beautiful photography, it is an unforgettable story told by a master explorer.

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