Wade's Reviews > Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water

Cadillac Desert by Marc Reisner
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Mar 15, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: politics, history
Read from February 16 to March 14, 2011

Marc Reisner describes the complexities that accompany the history and issues regarding the West's most valuable resource; water. He chronicles the formation of and subsequent power struggles between the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers including their vast dam building projects over the past century. Like any good book, rather than trying to push a particular conclusion, it presents the reader with many new (and sometimes unanswerable) questions.

Is it appropriate to make a desert into an artificial oasis? What if doing so provides usable farmland in areas that would otherwise be inhospitable? How about to control destructive floods, promote power generation, job creation, or recreation? Is it an appropriate thing for government to get involved with or should it be left to individuals and corporations? What about the effects on wildlife habitat and environmental degradation? He addresses issues of public spending, land rights, sustainability, local versus federal control, population growth, Indian affairs, special interests, politics and government bureaucracy. This 25 year old book gives a unique and relevant perspective to many issues our society faces today.

“Millions of people and green acres took over a region that, from appearances, is unforgivingly hostile to life. It was a spectacular achievement, and its most implacable critics have to acknowledge its positive side. The economy was, no doubt, enriched. Population dispersion was achieved. Land that had been dry-farmed and overgrazed and horribly abused was stabilized and saved by drought winds, the rivers and aquifers were put to productive use... The cost of all this, however was a vandalization of both our natural heritage and our economic future, and the reckoning has not even begun. Thus far, nature has paid the highest price. ” p 485

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Cadillac Desert.
Sign In »

Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

Wade I read this interesting article in the Salt Lake Tribune yesterday which addresses many of the issues found in Reisner's book:

back to top