Nothing illustrates both the problems and distortions of the “American Dream” than the settlement pattern of desert west. At once part of our mythology, and collective nightmare, the American desire to live in places (in large numbers) where rain does not fall from the sky in sufficient quantities to support human life, is far more than a footnote in our history. Rather, it is our history. [The wrangling over water in the west pits the environment, politics, capitalism, bureaucracy, greed, corruption, and degradation against each other – mirroring many other of our national struggles.]
The titanic struggle over water in the American West's proof text is Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water, by the late Marc Reisner. Written in the mid-eighties, when the west still had plenty of water, now, in 2018, as the west continues years of terrifying drought, Cadillac Desert reads more like prophecy than history.
In this book American hubris is on naked display. Our attempts to tame and control nature have only shown us how powerless we actually are in the face changing climatic conditions. But we are not only helpless - we make things far worse.