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Christa Sadler
Author, Editor (anthology)
The Colorado
The Colorado examines nine episodes in the history of our interaction with the Colorado River, from early prehistoric cultures to the Spanish explorations of the lower reaches of the river, the dam building frenzy of the early and middle 20th century, industrial agriculture and the current use of water throughout the region. This beautiful book combines current information, maps, and policy discussion in a stunning format that highlights the beauty and the grandeur of the river and its story. The book provides important history and context to one of the country’s most important—and most endangered—watersheds. This is an important book for all those who know and love the Colorado River, or who would like to learn more about this extraordinary region.
In this thoughtful companion to Murat Eyuboglu’s 2016 documentary of the same name, river guide Sadler (Dawn of the Dinosaurs: The Late Triassic in the American Southwest) traces the conflict-laden and cautionary history of the Colorado River and its basin, following its evolution from untamed, free-flowing river to human-engineered disaster area. Lavishly illustrated and beautifully produced, the book provides a flat if broad overview of the river’s history as, variously, sustainer of Native Americans, colonizing pathway for Spanish missionaries, incubator for rampant development, political and social cauldron, and victim of climate change. Explorer John Wesley Powell made the majestic Grand Canyon and Colorado River famous in the late 19th century, and proposed “commonwealths” with boundaries based on an area’s watershed instead of random development, predicting “a heritage of conflict and litigation over water rights, for there is not enough water to supply these lands!” Policymakers ignored Powell’s prophetic words, however, parceling out the “liquid property” to the competing demands of agriculture, urban growth, and industry, with the result that resources are now stretched dangerously thin even as climate change worsens conditions. Sadler’s in-depth exploration of the Colorado River and its rich legacy offers a thought-provoking if unsettling look at society’s destructive exploitation of the water and its failure to practice Powell’s concepts of conservation. (BookLife)