In the quarter-century since his first book, Killing the Hidden Waters, was published in 1977, Charles Bowden has become one of the premier writers on the American environment, rousing a generation of readers to both the wonder and the tragedy of humanity's relationship with the land.
Revisiting his earliest work with a new introduction, "What I Learned Watching the Wells Go Down," Bowden looks back at his first effort to awaken people to the costs and limits of using natural resources through a simple and obvious example-water. He drives home the point that years of droughts, rationing, and even water wars have done nothing to slake the insatiable consumption of water in the American West. Even more timely now than in 1977, Killing the Hidden Waters remains, in Edward Abbey's words, "the best all-around summary I've read yet, anywhere, of how our greed-driven, ever-expanding urban-industrial empire is consuming, wasting, poisoning, and destroying not only the resource basis of its own existence, but also the vital, sustaining basis of life everywhere." 36 b&w illus.