Joining the debates begun by Cadillac Desert and Water Is For Fighting Over, A Thirsty Land ranges from epic struggles over water usage in the face of climate change and population growth to innovative technologies for increasing the supply.
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 by the nation as a whole, 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.
- 1. Pipe Dreams: The 1968 State Water Plan
- 2. When Mine Is Yours and Yours Is Ours
- 3. “That’s the Kind of Thinking That Will Get Your Land Took from You”
- 4. The Last Straw
- 5. Rice in the Desert
- 6. What Makes the Dollar Flip
- 7. Dow by Law
- 8. An Oak with Its Roots in the River, Redux
- 9. Old Men Shouting at the Clouds
- 10. A Tale of Two Colonias
- 11. Up Against the Wall
- 12. Finding a Solution, Come Hell or No Water
- 13. Must Be Something in the Water
- 14. Hanged in a Fortnight
- Sources and Suggestions for Further Reading
“A timely, important book that manages to be a romp, too. You’ll meet dreamers, schemers, and even a few genuine heroes who have been fretting and feuding over the water woes of the Lone Star State for centuries. By the time you finish A Thirsty Land, you’ll understand that water truly is destiny—and not just in Texas. Seamus McGraw raises urgent questions that we will all have to face to avoid a parched future.”
—Dan Fagin, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Toms River
“In Texas, water is the stuff dreams are made of—but there has never been enough to go around. Seamus McGraw’s thorough and insightful history of the state’s water wars gives us an unsparing look at the nightmares in our past and invites us to wake up and prepare for a future of scarcity.”
—Nate Blakeslee, author of American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West