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The great thirst : Californians and water, 1770s-1990s

Author: Norris Hundley, Jr.
Publisher: Berkeley : University of California Press, ©1992.
Series: Centennial book.
Edition/Format:   Print book : State or province government publication : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
California is obsessed with water. The need for it--to use and profit from it, to control and manipulate it--has shaped California history to a remarkable extent. Not surprisingly, the story of Californians and water is a fascinating one, filled with enough intrigue and plot twists to power a spellbinding novel. Here for the first time Norris Hundley, a noted historian of the American West, tells that entire story,  Read more...
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Genre/Form: History
Material Type: Government publication, State or province government publication, Internet resource
Document Type: Book, Internet Resource
All Authors / Contributors: Norris Hundley, Jr.
ISBN: 0520077865 9780520077867
OCLC Number: 24700034
Notes: "A centennial book"--Page [i].
Description: xix, 551 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm.
Contents: The aboriginal waterscape : manipulation and near harmony --
Hispanic patterns : community and authority --
The American takeover : laissez-faire, localism, and monopoly --
Urban imperialism : a tale of two cities --
Hydraulic society triumphant : the great projects --
Hydraulic society on the defensive --
Water policy at a crossroads --
Reflections.
Series Title: Centennial book.
Responsibility: Norris Hundley, Jr.

Abstract:

California is obsessed with water. The need for it - to use and profit from it, to control and manipulate it - has shaped Californian history to a remarkable extent. The author tells the story from  Read more...

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"[A] comprehensive account of California water from the Edenic dreamtime of the aboriginal population to the Great Drought of the early 1980s." --"Los Angeles Times Book Review

 
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    schema:description "California is obsessed with water. The need for it--to use and profit from it, to control and manipulate it--has shaped California history to a remarkable extent. Not surprisingly, the story of Californians and water is a fascinating one, filled with enough intrigue and plot twists to power a spellbinding novel. Here for the first time Norris Hundley, a noted historian of the American West, tells that entire story, from before the arrival of Europeans to the drought that ushered in the 1990s. He begins by describing the waterscape in its natural state, a scene of incredibly varied terrain and watercourses and wildly fluctuating rainfall. The aboriginal Californians did little to alter this natural state. Aside from diverting streams in a limited way for irrigation or fish harvesting, they simply took what water they needed from the places where they found it. Early Spanish and Mexican immigrants, although they exploited water supplies on a large scale for their settlements, considered water a community resource, not to be monopolized by anyone. It was the Americans, arriving in ever-increasing numbers after the Gold Rush, who transformed California into a collection of the nation's preeminent water seekers. By the late twentieth century, a large, colorful cast of characters and communities had wheeled and dealed, built, diverted, and connived their way to an entirely different California waterscape. The results are presented not sensationally, but soberingly. One of Hundley's most important contributions to California water history, besides creating a clear, engrossing narrative of its intricacies, is to demolish the image of a monolithic "water empire" managed by a coercive elite. There have always been competing individuals and interests in every question of water use, and the mammoth projects - dams, aqueducts, and irrigation districts - have all come about through uneasy, constantly shifting political alliances. The story is still being written, and it revolves, as it always has, around the effect of human values on the waterscape. The California experience will be of interest to anyone concerned about the future of water on our planet."@en ;
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