This is a geographical appraisal of the misuse and mismanagement of Australian resources over the past 200 years. The three themes reflect the major elements in the settlement history of Australia, during which a huge and primarily arid land has been unevenly settled by a relatively small, and now multicultural, society. Part one of the book reviews the environmental impact of land settlement since 1788 and the complex problems of serious land degradation and modification of the continental water cycle. Part two focuses on the inland settlements which face the dual stresses of remoteness and aridity. Part three addresses the patterns of urban society and population, and shifts the scale of enquiry to the global view, in which technology, transport and trade predominate.