• Cadillac Desert, Revised and Updated Edition

  • The American West and Its Disappearing Water
  • By: Marc Reisner
  • Narrated by: Joe Spieler, Kate Udall
  • Length: 27 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Americas
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (274 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

The story of the American West is the story of a relentless quest for a precious resource: water. It is a tale of rivers diverted and dammed, of political corruptions and intrigue, of billion-dollar battles over water rights, of ecologic and economic disaster. In Cadillac Desert, Marc Reisner writes of the earliest settlers, lured by the promise of paradise, and of the ruthless tactics employed by Los Angeles politicians and business interests to ensure the city's growth. He documents the bitter rivalry between two government giants, the Bureau of Reclamation and the US Army Corps of Engineers, in the competition to transform the West.

Based on more than a decade of research, Cadillac Desert is a stunning exposé and a dramatic, intriguing history of the creation of Eden - an Eden that may be only a mirage.

©2018 Blackstone Audio, Inc. (P)2018 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about Cadillac Desert, Revised and Updated Edition

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Too much mouth noise in narration

Each breath declares itself as if the narrator is about to submerge for an underwater breath-holding contest. The respiratory rate is way too high - every four to five words. And if that wasn’t enough: wet, smacking breath sounds. I’m sure Joe Spieler is an awesome guy, but he breathes as if he should’ve under the care of physician.

5 people found this helpful

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Great story, death rattle narration.

Joe Spieler's narration is like listening to a man on his death bed gasping for breath, who beckons you to lean forward to hear his last critically-important sentence. And you do it because you really need the information, but it takes 28 hours of painfully listening to that freaking death rattle to get it. And you are glad you got the information because it is really amazing necessary stuff, but you can never quite get that rasping breathy hiss out of your head. On top of that he often mispronounces words, like JOB's Daughters. Whyyyyy. On the other hand, the content of this book was awesome. I am glad for the education, and quite the eye-opening education this is. It has always been the location of water that shapes our world, but I never appreciated how wealth, greed and arrogance shapes who gets to use it. The audacity of humans to divert and harness water simply because they can, begs the very large question of whether they should. This book is a great historical account of how water created the west and the west created water.

4 people found this helpful

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quintessential history of the West

this book was recommended to me Years Ago by my grandfather who lives in California. at the time I wasn't particularly interested years later I discovered this book after listening to Jared Diamonds collapse book. water as the primary subject matter of this book is incredibly important to Human Society, this particular book should be included as part of any High School American history class. though from time to time the subject matter does fieldron out and potentially over detailed it does adequately emphasize the political maneuvering corruption and subsequent growth of the American West in particular the stories of LA and how it came to acquire its water rights were very interesting from a non Californians perspective. highly recommend this book changes how you see water coming out of the tap

3 people found this helpful

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Hoarse narrator

The narrator has an extremely hoarse voice that becomes very tiresome. The stories in the first half of the book are interesting, but the book slows down and becomes repetitive in the second half. By the end, the negativity and “sky is falling” mentality is just boring.

2 people found this helpful

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Required reading for anyone who consumes water

Would you consider the audio edition of Cadillac Desert, Revised and Updated Edition to be better than the print version?

The updated version is important and brings us up to date on water policy, all the way into 2018. Changes since the 1980s when 1st published and then again after being revised in the 1990s make this a book that needs to be read and pondered (or listened to) again.

What did you like best about this story?

The book discusses government and political involvement in water policy from the time of the first damming of rivers and usage of groundwater in the US. It continues to discuss the future consequences.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

The book skips around a bit in time. I would like for it to be a bit more chronological

2 people found this helpful

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Reisner's law: water flows to money & power

This is a very detailed description of the science and politics of water usage in the West (and to some extent the southeast). The early sections describe the battle over water between Los Angeles and other areas around 1900; LA, led by the engineer Mulholland, won, but he died in disgrace. The bulk of the book describes damming projects that implemented the 1st law of water usage in the West: “Water flows towards money and power.” Reisner, who died in 2000 at age 51 has done a tremendous amount of research, including interviews with some of the major figures responsible for the damming of most of the major rivers in the west, Floyd Domini in particular. This book is #61 on the Modern Library’s list of the 100 most important non-fiction books written in English. It was made into a 4-part PBS series, available on YouTube. The 1986 book, based on a decade of research, has been updated by Lawrie Mott to include the effects of climate change.

1 person found this helpful

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Don't Come West Without It.

Having first read this life-changing book in the mid-90s, I was delighted to find it in Audible format and updated too. Anyone living west of the Mississippi River who wishes to catch a glimpse of the waterless realm we in the West are now entering should give this book full attention. The historical account of the various fumbling agencies in charge of our wildlands and watersheds is thoroughly enlightening. Water mismanagement, wanton dam building, abuse of power and climate change have been ongoing for well over a century. Thankfully, that is now changing, as described in the new Afterword section by Lawrie Mott, who brings new life and hope to a parched land overpopulated with people who have little idea of how close we are to running dry. This is one of my lifetime favorite books.

1 person found this helpful

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A Wonderful Read!

This book is a captivating blend of history, political science, and natural history. Regardless of your political perspective, the book is a fascinating review of ‘Big Government’ programs that ran amok to the chagrin of nearly everyone at one time or another.

The updates are helpful, bringing the book current to 2017.

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Informative but dragged on

Great subject matter, I learned a ton about the history of water management in the wear and in America in general. It became a little repetitive over time, and I feel he could have edited it down a good amount from 26 or so hours. The last few hours were an update which was nice to know what happened over the last 25 years, but I was a bit fatigued at that point. The first narrator’s voice sounded thirsty which I thought was appropriate

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Great book!

Book was great! Full of amazing information. Narration voice was a labored in breath at times but decent tone, but the chapters did not sync up with the audio and app.