Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water

Cadillac Desert The American West and Its Disappearing Water 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 batt

  • Title: Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water
  • Author: Marc Reisner
  • ISBN: 9780140178241
  • Page: 329
  • Format: Paperback
  • 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 ecologic and economic disaster In Cadillac Desert Marc Reisner writes of the earliest settlers, lured by the promise of paradise, and of the ruthlThe 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 ecologic and economic disaster In 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 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 be only a mirage.

    One thought on “Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water”

    1. Why not a fifth star?"I don't know. That doesn't make sense to me."—Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL), on whether New Orleans should be rebuilt in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Sept. 2, 2005Because as important and well written as this book is, it is pervaded by a few theoretical flaws in its rhetorical portion. The factual reporting and research are impeccable and at this point, this book is famous in its own right and it deserves that. But:(1) The Naturalistic Fallacy. If humans do not belong i [...]

    2. A year later, I've given CD a second read and must, finally, award it the 5th star (for whatever that's worth) that it so deserves. One of the most scathing, witty and instructive books of political /environmental/economic journalism that I've ever had the pleasure (and horror) to read. I do so wish Reisner was still around to bring us up to date on this most vital and fascinating subject. (Afterward to revised 1992 edition is as close to contemporary as CD gets).Brilliant enough for 5 stars, bu [...]

    3. Some required retroactive expectation management: Marc Reisner was a journalist, writing for a general audience. Much like Charles Mann and Pollan and other pop-non-fiction writers from the journalistic world, he was less concerned with thorough documentation than he was with persuasion and exposition (even though few things are more persuasive than accurate documentation and logical analysis). With that in mind, I should not have been so utterly enraged by the nearly complete absence of direct [...]

    4. just a chapter or two in, i already predict this will be one of the more important books i read this decade

    5. if this doesn't make you want to take Los Angeles and associated farmland and dump it in the ocean - nothing will. Great history of water development in the west.

    6. An amazing book that was too long.The best synopsis I came upon was on page 484: "illegal subsidies enrich big farmers, whose excess production depresses crop prices nationwide and whose waste of cheap water creates an environmental calamity that could cost billions to solve." He goes into copious detail in the 500 pages. The political system (congress, Bureau of Reclamation, and Army Corp of Engineers) become a vicious cycle that dam and divert rivers as much as they can, whether it makes sense [...]

    7. Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water - 22 Tapes Unabridged (Part 1 & 2) ~30 hours amazon/Cadillac-DesertFrom Library Journal: Dams ostensibly provide indispensable economic development through flood control, irrigation, and recreation. Goldsmith and Hildyard, with examples from throughout the world, demolish the common justifications for large dams. They advocate traditional irrigation as environmentally sound and economically beneficial. Reisner focuses more narrowl [...]

    8. That was a slow read. Very pretty. And the author was very fond of obscure words. Obscure words that I refuse to look up, and I don't think I would have even with an electronic copy. I read this book due to its reference in The Water Knife. It seemed like an awful lot that happened in that fictional book also happened in real world California. I'm not sure I buy this book's title. This book was pretty darn informative but mostly it talked about people acting in their short-term selfish self-inte [...]

    9. If you read only one book about the role of water in the west, this should be the one. Reisner recounts the complex and often violent history of efforts to control water in this dry land. Only in the last few years has water been allowed to return into the once verdant Owens Valley of California, after it was diverted through subterfuge to supply the needs of southern California. There is so much history to tell about the way the huge dams along the Colorado River were sold to the American publi [...]

    10. This was a really, really interesting book. I picked it up, without knowing much about it, because I knew it had been influential in the American environmentalist movement. The focus is on water development, especially dam building, and particularly on water development in the American West and Midwest. It looks at how water policy has effected, over time, an upward redistribution of wealth and power from small family farms to wealthy and corporate farming operations, and at the environmental im [...]

    11. Marc Reisner’s classic, Cadillac Desert, takes us for a walk on the wet side, revealing far more than you ever wanted to know about dams, flood control, irrigation, and municipal water systems — and the serious long-term drawbacks that came along with building thousands of water projects in the frenzied pursuit of short-term wealth and power. It’s a brilliant, funny, and annoying expose of government corruption. It’s an ecological horror story. It’s a collection of powerful lessons for [...]

    12. The message comes through loud and clear. One should not live west of the 100th meridian in the American West. As a result of ten years of research and analysis, Mark Reisner , an environmentalist from Minneapolis, writes about the on-going drought that greeted early settlers there. He details the extreme measures taken by the government and opportune business men to deal with the lack of water in areas where people likely should not have settled in the first place. Los Angeles, the 2nd largest [...]

    13. I read this non-fiction book after reading the fiction book, The Water Knife, which mentions Cadillac Desert multiple times. Indeed, Cadillac Desert clearly served as a major motivator behind Bacigalupi's novel. So I figured, hey let's do a one-two, fiction-nonfiction combo.Okay, so this book is about the water works of the Southeast and the cities and organizations that guided them. Los Angeles, Army Corp of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, etc. It is superbly well-written, with rich detail no [...]

    14. Why would anyone read a 500 page book about irrigation and dam building? If you are curious why Los Angeles has a population of 10 million, and why California has one of the richest economies in the world, this book has the answers. What began as an attempt to deliver water to poor, struggling farmers, became a nearly unstoppable machine that made wealthy men richer, concentrated political power in the hands of a few, and made a mockery of the notion that our country is based on a free-market ec [...]

    15. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't keep with this book. The first part of the book discusses the manner in which officials from Los Angeles hijack the water from the Owens Valley in order to line the pockets of several businessmen, while ostensibly securing water for the future of Los Angeles. It is a compelling story, but early on, you get the sense that Marc Reisner is writing with a pretty irritated tone. That tone persists as Reisner details a series of dam constructions in each sub [...]

    16. Wonderfully engaging overview of the history of water development in the west. If you live west of the Mississippi, drink water, and/or buy food that is produced there, this should be mandatory reading. Reisner is incredibly funny, and pieces together a compelling history of the bloated egos and budgets that led to some of the most short-sighted public projects in the history of the world. It is a tale of hubris, of culture, of the misguided spirit of expansion that made this country "great." It [...]

    17. An very readable and immensely detailed history of water projects and dams in the western US. I'm the sixth owner of this well-used paperback (based on the various notes and underlinings and the pile of bar code stickers on the back - a shout-out for the University of Idaho!), but it honestly should be required reading for all residents of this region. From monstrous dams (and a few monstrous dam blow-outs - one just a mile further up the canyon from where I live) to the earliest irrigation proj [...]

    18. While this book is nearly 30 years old it is still as fresh as a plunge into a cold mountain stream. I would like to see a supplement of the work covering the more recent past.

    19. A history of the Herculean efforts in construction and self-delusion which in the short term made the USA's dry south-west bloom, and the desperate Red Queen's race which has followed as further water projects, ever grander and more expensive, have been needed for ever smaller rewards - or, past a certain point, simply for the sake of having water projects, even if they were actively destructive. It's the sort of non-fiction book which, by considering one topic in sufficient detail and with suff [...]

    20. Started reading this before I traveled to Palm Springs. Opened my eyes wide to our nation's water history and challenges ahead, even if this book is challenged as not being totally accurate. Perfect follow-up to this read seems to be a book about local food!

    21. As California sweats through a fourth year of drought I thought it might be a good time to read this history of water development in the American West. Although it is often hailed as an environmental classic, Cadillac Desert can also read as a jeremiad against big government. While Reisner does spend some time on the environmental consequences of America's century of dam building and large-scale crop irrigation, what really gets his blood pumping is the corruption and fiscal stupidity of it all. [...]

    22. This book is about water, money, politics, and the transformation of nature.I once lived near Cadillac Desert, where an eccentric millionaire buried a fleet of new Cadillacs in the ground. Presumably, he had a point. When I saw a PBS documentary based on the book, I understood why Marc Resiner was so well respected and why his tragic death at a relatively young age was mourned by environmentalists and historians of the West. Reisner's book documents the growth of the Bureau of Reclamation, respo [...]

    23. Written in 1985-86, this is largely a history of the development of the American West as it relates to water. Anyone who lives in the West, or has lived there, or has spent a lot of time there, knows that the biggest concern in those states is water. There simply is not enough of it to go around, and the problem only grows worse as more and more people flock to desert or semi-desert cities. Southern California, most of Arizona, most of New Mexico, West Texas, eastern Colorado, eastern Wyoming, m [...]

    24. I picked up this book after seeing it mentioned in Paolo Bacigalupi's nove "the Water Knife." Having recently moved from Arizona, where I'd lived most of my life, the topic of water in the desert is one that's ever on my mind. I know from personal experience on a backpacking trip gone awry how much water matters when you're in the desert and once you've had an experience like that, the idea of going without water remains a constant background fear.Cadillac Desert is an amazing book to me simply [...]

    25. Fascinating, snarky, and surprisingly readable story of the machinations behind the western states and their use of water. This is in fact a bit less about the disappearing water and more about the misuse and redirection of the little water that's there. From his pro-logic stance, Reisner tells the story of logic constantly being thwarted or ignored by political maneuverings, particularly by the Bureau of Reclamation, whose efforts to provide water to starving farmers instead benefited politicia [...]

    26. this book is a stunning chronicle of the damming of america's rivers, mainly in the west. i felt that i had to wade through far too much detail about the people (politicians, newsmen, townfolk, MORMONS), and their motives, the paradigms of the old west that contributed, the bills, and the agencies (bureau of reclamation, army corps of engineers) responsible for these horrors. BUT it was worth it in the end to see the big picture. unfortunately at this point it seems that there is no turning back [...]

    27. This book was dense and hard to keep straight at times (so many people, so many locations), but it is a fantastic history of our country from the point of view of our most precious resource. I do get the feeling it is a bit biased, as the book rails against the Bureau of Reclamation (unendingly), the Army Corps of Engineers, big/factory farms, and many politicians. I couldn't help but agree with everything he said. Government agencies that are only motivated by continuing to create work for them [...]

    28. It's easy to grow up in the West, in California, and not know where your food comes from, where your electricity, where your water comes from. It's easy to believe that all the huge water projects, the dams, the aqueducts, are for the big desert cities like Phoenix and Los Angeles, that the places in need of power and water and multi-billion dollar federal projects are the urban dwellers, and you would be completely wrong. This book is still as fascinating, hard-hitting, and prone to make you ye [...]

    29. This book is a phenomenal review of California's enormous water infrastructure projects, its battles with neighboring Western and Southwestern States, and the pursuit of greed, industry, and profit. Marc Reisner, a journalist and masterful storyteller, took on years of first person interviews and old-fashioned archival digging to chart the irrigation and development of Los Angeles and its surrounding areas, as well as the role this water development played vis-a-vis preexisting and marginal comm [...]

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