“An important story not just about [Texas’s] water history, but also about its social, economic, and political identity” (Western Historical Quarterly).
As a changing climate threatens the whole country with deeper droughts and more furious floods that put ever more people and property at risk, Texas has become a bellwether state for water debates. Will there be enough water for everyone? Is there the will to take the steps necessary to defend ourselves against the sea? Is it in the nature of Americans to adapt to nature in flux?
The most comprehensive—and comprehensible—book on contemporary water issues, A Thirsty Land delves deep into the challenges faced not just by Texas but also by the nation, as we struggle to find a way to balance the changing forces of nature with our own ever-expanding needs. Part history, part science, part adventure story, and part travelogue, this book puts a human face on the struggle to master that most precious and capricious of resources, water. Seamus McGraw goes to the taproots, talking to farmers, ranchers, businesspeople, and citizen activists, as well as to politicians and government employees. Their stories provide chilling evidence that Texas—and indeed the nation—is not ready for the next devastating drought, the next catastrophic flood. Ultimately, however, A Thirsty Land delivers hope. This deep dive into one of the most vexing challenges facing Texas and the nation offers glimpses of the way forward in the untapped opportunities that water also presents.
“A hard look at a hard problem: finding sufficient water to live in a place without much of it. . . . McGraw’s fine book serves as a useful guide. Observers of Western waterways will want to have this on their shelves alongside the likes of Marc Reisner and Charles Bowden.” —Kirkus Reviews
“In stark prose that often gleams like a bone pile bleached in the sun, McGraw travels back and forth across Texas to give a free-ranging but deadeye view of the crisis on the horizon.” —Texas Monthly
“It’s hard to write about the slow creep of environmental crises like drought without resorting to shock tactics or getting lost in the weeds . . . [McGraw] draws out the conflicts in compelling ways by drilling into the plight of individual water users. Even if you feel no connection to Texas, these stories are relevant to every part of the country.” —Outside
“Interviewing both scientific experts and everyday water users, [McGraw] clearly delineates the competing interests, describes political and geological reality, and makes a compelling argument for statewide water policy that utilizes modern technology and fairly weighs parochial needs against the good of the whole.” —Arizona Daily Star, Southwest Books of the Year