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Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water, Revised Edition Paperback – June 1, 1993
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Reisner captures Western water history in Cinemascope and Technicolor. Cadillac Desert is timely and of national importance. Hurry up and read this book. --The Washington Post
You will never again consume more water than you need.
Excellent reading. Informative and revealing. --Gilberto d'Urso
Top Customer Reviews
There is also an excellent PBS companion 4 video series of the same name which I found available at my library (or sold through Amazon.com packaged with Chinatown) which I would HIGHLY recommend. It adds a lot thorough interviews, footage of a dam failing, and beautiful scenery that lets you appreciate the natural beauty at stake when considering these large water projects.
Well, better late than never, and I am pleased to report that it deserves its enduring reputation.
...But let me assume that I am writing this "review" for an audience that is neither familiar with Reisner's book nor aware of the role water development has played in every aspect of the history of the American West, particularly of California.
Briefly, the history of water development contains the whole story of the West, from start to present. Early modern irrigation worked miracles and opened to the plow land previously unavailable for agriculture -- land that now feeds the nation and much of the world. If it were not for these early, massive hydro-projects, not one of the great cities of the West would be even conceivable, millions upon millions of people would and could never have considered settling the western half of the continent. Of course, there was a massive cost accompanying all of these benefits, measurable in human as well as environmental terms, but in those days the cost-benefit analysis was easy.
Building upon early irrigation successes, two government agencies -- the Bureau of Reclamation and the Army Corps of Engineers, may they both live forever in infamy -- garnered unto themselves massive power and independence, which they used to keep on building dam after dam after dam. The problem was not so much (at the time the dams were built) that the environmental costs were higher with every dam, until there now remains no wild river beyond the hundredth meridian of any significance whatsoever, precious little habitat for migratory birds, mass extinctions, etc., etc., tragically etc.Read more ›
My reading this book can basically be translated into the author, Marc Reisner, slapping me in the face and chewing me out and me just sitting there unable to defend myself. The book sets forth examples that are virtually impossible to argue against. However, one point Mr. Reisner failed to mention is the importance agriculture plays in our national security and our ability as a nation to sustain ourselves. This point, though, hardly justifies the irrational decisions made buy both the Bureau of Reclamation and the Corps of Engineers. I mention it here as a kind a weak punch from the canvas in an attempt to justify my existence after being so brutally beaten down by facts and the exposure of the blatant hypocrisy perpetuated by so-called "ideological purists" (which come from both sides of the aisle). The author said it best by stating that when it comes to water there are no Republicans and Democrats, and there are no liberals or conservatives.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent !!!!!!!!!! History That most if not all people know nothing about. Reads like a Novel.Published 11 days ago by William B Williamson
I have read this book several times, and found that it has an incredible amount
of data about the history of the water wars in the Western United States, and
the politics... Read more
The author paints a stark picture of the political and cultural history of water--an ages old story except water is the means to the end (wealth for a few). Read morePublished 1 month ago by I. M. Jones
The grim reality is that irrigated land in the western states was a huge mistake. Taxpayers subsidized this travesty for many years. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Bruce A. Heiman
This book provides an amazing historical account of how the dams in the West came to be. I found the book to be interesting and enlightening especially when California is always in... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Brigette
Your tax dullards at work! This lively and very readable history of water projects in the American west should be mandatory reading for all high level managers of physical... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
This is a must-read classic by an author who died all too young if you are interested in the challenge/problem of water use in the West.Published 1 month ago by Don Kensil
Excellent, thorough history of how water policy has evolved in the American west. Marc Reisner's style of writing makes a potentially technical, dry subject very pleasurable to... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Chamasazi