The Dreamt Land: Chasing Water and Dust Across California

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, May 21, 2019 - Nature - 576 pages
A vivid, searching journey into California's capture of water and soil--the epic story of a people's defiance of nature and the wonders, and ruin, it has wrought

"[An] exhaustive, deeply reported account . . . Few other journalists could have written a book as personal and authoritative . . . As Arax makes plain in this important book, it's been the same story in California for almost two centuries now: When it comes to water, 'the resource is finite. The greed isn't.'" --Gary Krist, The New York Times Book Review


Mark Arax is from a family of Central Valley farmers, a writer with deep ties to the land who has watched the battles over water intensify even as California lurches from drought to flood and back again. In The Dreamt Land, he travels the state to explore the one-of-a-kind distribution system, built in the 1940s, '50s and '60s, that is straining to keep up with California's relentless growth.

The Dreamt Land weaves reportage, history and memoir to confront the "Golden State" myth in riveting fashion. No other chronicler of the West has so deeply delved into the empires of agriculture that drink so much of the water. The nation's biggest farmers--the nut king, grape king and citrus queen--tell their story here for the first time.

Arax, the native son, is persistent and tough as he treks from desert to delta, mountain to valley. What he finds is hard earned, awe-inspiring, tragic and revelatory. In the end, his compassion for the land becomes an elegy to the dream that created California and now threatens to undo it.
 

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The Dreamt Land: Chasing Dust and Water Across California

User Review  - Publishers Weekly

Journalist Arax (The King of California) goes both deep and wide in this massive exploration of the relationships between California’s natural patterns of drought and flood, its elaborate and aging ... Read full review

Contents

Apricots Lesson
15
Agrarian Revolt
37
Staking Eden
123
Eureka
148
Tailings
166
Mining Soil
177
lo Poor Henry
196
Fruiting the Plain
219
The Candy Man
342
Citrus Hills
362
Raisinland
394
The Whale
413
Poisoned Pond
440
2O 960Acre Babies
460
Holy Water
484
Acknowledgments
529

Steal Us a River
239
Moving the Rain
268
Kingdom of Wonderful
299

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About the author (2019)

MARK ARAX is an author and journalist whose writings on California and the West have received numerous awards for literary nonfiction. A former staffer at the Los Angeles Times, his work has appeared in The New York Times and the California Sunday Magazine. His books include a memoir of his father's murder, a collection of essays about the West, and the best-selling The King of California, which won a California Book Award, the William Saroyan Prize from Stanford University, and was named a top book of 2004 by the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. He lives in Fresno, California.

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