Friday, December 13, 2013

Western Water Made Simple edited by Ed Marston

Liquids month ends as it began with that most vital of fluids, water. I bought this book at Powell's during our legendary $400+ shopping expedition in 2007. The title is tongue-in-cheek, of course—there is nothing simple about water in the American West. The book is a collection of articles from four special issues of High Country News from 1986. The first serves as an introduction to a variety of issues throughout the region. The other three delve into the three major regional drainage basins: the Columbia River, the Missouri River, and the Colorado River.

Although much of the information is obviously dated—I was still in high school when it was published—I love this book. Marc Reisner's Cadillac Desert sparked my interest in water so these articles traverse familiar territory. I've read other water books drawn from High Country News as well, and their reporting and insight are consistently first-rate.

The book's age makes it hard to recommend to anyone not already familiar with the topic, but for those who are, Western Water Made Simple provides lots of background and fills in some gaps.


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