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The Dreamt Land
The Dreamt Land: Chasing Water and Dust Across California | Mark Arax
3 posts | 3 read | 6 to read
A vivid, searching journey into California's capture of water and soil--an epic story of a people's defiance of nature and the wonders, and ruin, it has wrought "A stunning history of power, arrogance, and greed."--Kirkus Reviews (starred) 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. This is a heartfelt, beautifully written book about the land and the people who have worked it--from gold miners to wheat ranchers to small fruit farmers and today's Big Ag. Since the beginning, Californians have redirected rivers, drilled ever-deeper wells and built higher dams, pushing the water supply past its limit. 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. This is a tale of politics and hubris in the arid West, of imported workers left behind in the sun and the fatigued earth that is made to give more even while it keeps sinking. But when drought turns to flood once again, all is forgotten as the farmers plant more nuts and the developers build more houses. 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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Christine
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OMG. Not sure a 25-hour audiobook about my state‘s water crisis and its relationship to systemic agricultural craziness was the perfect choice for #24in48...😳😂 (I did listen at 1.75 speed, but still!) It was really good, though. Excellent writing, and I loved the memoir elements. I may not be able to eat an almond again without a pang of guilt, but I‘m certainly glad I read this. (Next up for the readathon - ANYthing light and fun!! 😛)

Freespirit It such an important subject..water security..we have a macadamia nut farm here in Australia and have had several very dry years. We don't irrigate..we have tried to enrich the soil to compensate but the lack of rain is getting scary😬 3y
Christine @Freespirit Oh wow, a macadamia farm - amazing! (My favorite nut, actually! 😋) But yes, water security is such a scary issue. 3y
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Christine
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Time for takeout fish tacos on the deck! 🌮🌮
#24in48
#stillreading
#audiotacos

Tamra Yum! Terrific view in the sunshine. 🌞 3y
cariashley 😍😍 3y
Christine @Tamra Thanks! We don‘t eat enough meals outside, must remedy that. 3y
Readerann Beautiful! 3y
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Erynecki
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I‘m halfway through this book. At 530 pages it is not a light summer read. It is, however, a beautifully written book and one that lots of people ought to be required to read - particularly California politicians. It‘s the story of water, the California land grab, politics, agriculture in the arid West, greed, and ingenuity.