Cadillac Desert

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Cadillac Desert, by Marc Reisner, is a 1986 book published by Viking (ISBN 0-14-017824-4) about land development and water policy in the western United States. Some scholars[who?] have described the book as Reisner's magnum opus.[1] Subtitled The American West and its Disappearing Water, it gives the history of the Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and their struggle to remake the American West. The book's main conclusion is that development-driven policies, formed when settling the West was the country's main concern, are having serious long-term negative effects on the environment and water quantity. The book was revised and updated in 1993. A portion of the 1993 update was printed in the inaugural edition of the Hastings West-Northwest Journal of Environmental Law and Policy.[2]

A four-part television documentary based on the revised book was produced by KTEH, the PBS affiliate in San Jose, California, in 1996. The parts are entitled Mulholland’s Dream, An American Nile, The Mercy of Nature, and The Last Oasis. Additionally, Reisner's book inspired fictional works about the effects of climate change (so-called climate fiction), such as Paolo Bacigalupi's near-future thriller The Water Knife (2015), in which Cadillac Desert is frequently mentioned by several characters as crucial anticipation of the environmental decline they experience, or Claire Vaye Watkins's Gold Fame Citrus (2015) which references Cadillac Desert as a source in its acknowledgments.

Topics discussed[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Brian E. Gray, Dedication, 14 Hastings W.-Nw. J. Envt'l L. & Pol'y 29 (2008)
  2. ^ Marc Reisner, Deconstruction in the Arid West, 1 West-Northwest 1 (1994)

External links[edit]

  • "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2003-02-25. Retrieved 2005-12-14.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)[dead link]