Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water, Revised Edition

Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water, Revised Edition

by Marc Reisner


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"The definitive work on the West's water crisis." --Newsweek

The story of the American West is the story of a relentless quest for a precious resource: water. It is a tale of rivers diverted and dammed, of political corruption and intrigue, of billion-dollar battles over water rights, of ecological and economic disaster. In his landmark book, Cadillac Desert, Marc Reisner writes of the earliest settlers, lured by the promise of paradise, and of the ruthless tactics employed by Los Angeles politicians and business interests to ensure the city's growth. He documents the bitter rivalry between two government giants, the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in the competition to transform the West. Based on more than a decade of research, Cadillac Desert is a stunning expose and a dramatic, intriguing history of the creation of an Eden--an Eden that may only be a mirage.

This edition includes a new postscript by Lawrie Mott, a former staff scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, that updates Western water issues over the last two decades, including the long-term impact of climate change and how the region can prepare for the future.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780140178241
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/28/1993
Edition description: Revised
Pages: 624
Sales rank: 86,849
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Marc Reisner worked for many years at the Natural Resources Defense Council. In 1979, he received an Alicia J. Patterson Journalism Fellowship and began the research for Cadillac Desert. He was also the author of Game Wars: The Undercover Pursuit of Wildlife Poachers and A Dangerous Place: California's Unsettling Fate. Resisner died in 2000.

Lawrie Mott, formerly an environmental heath scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council, lives in a Bay Area county that receives all its water from local supplies. From Marc Reisner, her late husband, she learned about water in the West at their dinner table and during long drives through western states. Mott received her B.A. from the University of California at Santa Cruz and her M.S. from Yale.

Table of Contents

Introduction: A Semidesert with a Desert Heart
Chapter One: A Country of Illusion
Chapter Two: The Red Queen
Chapter Three: First Causes
Chapter Four: An American Nile (I)
Chapter Five: The Go-Go Years
Chapter Six: Rivals in Crime
Chapter Seven: Dominy
Chapter Eight: An American Nile (II)
Chapter Nine: The Peanut Farmer and the Pork Barrel
Chapter Ten: Chinatown
Chapter Eleven: Those Who Refuse to Learn...
Chapter Twelve: Things Fall Apart
Epilogue: A Civilization, If You Can Keep It
Afterword to the Revised Edition
Notes and Bibliography

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Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water, Revised Edition 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
GustieReader More than 1 year ago
A humorous narrative exposing the haphazard development of the American West, Cadillac Desert leaves no river undammed. From the journeys of early explorers to the government policies of yesteryear, Marc Reisner cunningly avoids producing another academic source denouncing water consumption throughout the world. Easy to read and simple to follow, the personalities of various characters throughout the region's history bring the story of deteriorating water resources alive. By describing the ascendancy of the American West despite constant conflict over fading water supplies, Reisner casts doubt upon the sustainability of current water demands. Through a wealth of information and knowledge, Reisner's Cadillac Desert demonstrates the diverse perceptions people hold and have held about water resources in the American West. Overall, Reisner's comical nature and ability to create compelling perspectives lightens the mood of this already depressing topic of dwindling, scarce resources. Both thought provoking and eye opening, Cadillac Desert is a must read for any environmentally cognizant citizen of the twenty first century.
tlbWY More than 1 year ago
I bought the book as a required textbook for a class, but I read it cover to cover because it is the best account of the history of water in the west that I have ever read. It is the first book that made me put away my Kindle since I have owned my Kindle!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is beyond outsanding. Richly anotated with references. Filled with historical figures and what they did, and didn't do, with regards to water development. A great segment has Jimmy Carter enjoying life in a canoe going down the rapids of a river. A must reading for those interested in dams, rivers, and salmon.
MaizeVA More than 1 year ago
I only started reading this to learn about Owens Valley however it was that and so much more. I am shocked at the irresponsibility and greed that drives this nation.
M_Newton_Davis More than 1 year ago
I recomend this book if you are interested in the water struggle that goes on here in Los Angeles from its beginnings in the last century. Also if you are just interested in the history of the Eastern Sierra area.
RLoughran More than 1 year ago
The scope of research involved in "Cadillac Desert" is breathtaking. Highly readable, informative, scary. Shows government doing what government does best: serving itself with little or no regard for people.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A highly readable factual history about the real California and what has been done with it. In depth and full of real life characters, this book should be assigned reading to all US history students to learn the start of federal corporate subsidy. While not as grand in scope as 'The Prize' or in depth as 'The Reckoning', 'Cadilac Desert' deserves its place among Pulitzer Prize winners.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'A Country of Illusion', the second chapter that recounts the history of Western American settlement, should be required reading of every high school student in America. This book is humorous, compelling and critical of us all for our past and present greed and thoughtlessness
Devil_llama on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A classic work on water problems in the American west. It seems a bit daunting by its size, but the writing moves along smoothly, and it really isn't difficult to read...only to carry on in the small size bags they allow on airplanes.
tintinintibet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I remember being frustrated with what felt like a disorganized, non-chronological set of chapters, with some material repeated. Since it reads more like history/social science, I think it ought to be more structured than loose. This isn't Edward Abbey, though the author seems to try to be as creative with his storytelling as you might find in fiction.
Smiley on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This well documented, highly readable account of Western water development will give you a belly ache from both disgust and laughter, but you can't be the same after reading it. Should be required reading in high school. Reisner hedges a bit in the new forward to the latest edition.
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