Every concrete building and paved road on Earth, every computer screen and silicon chip, is made from sand. It's the ingredient that makes possible our cities, our science, and our future—and, incredibly, we're running out of it. In this finalist for the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award, Vince Beiser travels the globe, from the United States to remote corners of India, China, and Dubai, to demonstrate why sand is so crucial to modern life. Along the way, he encounters world-changing innovators, island-building entrepreneurs, desert fighters, and murderous sand pirates, all of whom represent the serious human and environmental costs incurred by our dependence on sand.