Get personalized recommendations and earn points toward a free book!
Check Out
The Bestselling Books of All Time
See the List

The Dreamt Land

Best Seller
The Dreamt Land by Mark Arax
Hardcover
May 21, 2019 | 576 Pages
See All Formats (3) +
  • Paperback $16.00

    Apr 21, 2020 | 320 Pages

  • Hardcover $30.00

    May 21, 2019 | 576 Pages

  • Ebook $15.99

    May 21, 2019 | 576 Pages

Buy the Audiobook Download:

Product Details

Praise

“There’s a new history of water use in California that’s fantastic. It’s called The Dreamt Land. It’s like John McPhee-level writing. It’s really worth it for the writing alone.”
—Linda Ronstadt 

“A mesmerizing new book that examines the nation’s most populous state through the prism of its most valuable resource: water. Call author Mark Arax, an award-winning journalist, historian and native son of the Central Valley, a Steinbeck for the 21st century.”
—Andy Kroll, Rolling Stone
 
“Arax narrates this tumultuous history skillfully… Water, land and the conjunction of the two have inspired some of California’s most powerful writing: Didion, Mary Austin’s lyrical The Land of Little Rain, Norris Hundley’s authoritative The Great Thirst, William Kahrl’s gorgeous, shamefully out-of-print The California Water Atlas, and, jumping genres, Chinatown, with its water-crazed Mephistopheles, Noah Cross. The Dreamt Land earns its place alongside them.”
—Peter Fish, The San Francisco Chronicle

“In his sprawling, provocative book The Dreamt Land, journalist Mark Arax examines California’s long-building water crisis with the keen, loving, troubled eye of a native son… The Dreamt Land assumes an urgent, personal tone and incorporates history, memoir and the lives of larger-than-life personalities. Taken together, it is a story biblical in scope and cautionary in tenor.”
Gerard Helferich, The Wall Street Journal

“Former L.A. Times reporter Mark Arax makes a riveting case that this expanse — 450 miles lengthwise from Shasta to Tehachapi; 60 miles across from the Sierra Nevada to the Coastal Range — as much as the world cities on its coast, holds the key to understanding California …  a deeply reported work keenly alive to local subcultures.
Stephen Phillips, Los Angeles Times
 
“Mark Arax’s monumental new book on California’s water system underscores the madness that makes the Golden State an agricultural powerhouse. [The Dreamt Land] is a compelling and powerful history of how power and greed shape the land, and Arax has achieved a masterful distillation of how California got here, warts and all.”
Civil Eats

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.” 
Chicago Review of Books

“You can’t understand California without understanding water, and no one is better at doing that than Mark Arax, whose depth of knowledge about the Central Valley is organic and unparalleled. Plus, he writes like a dream.” 
—Mark Bittman, author of Food Matters 

The Dreamt Land is the book Mark Arax was born to write. Nuanced, deeply researched, and profoundly personal, it offers, through its history of agriculture in California, a deep dive into the soul of the state. Arax knows the territory; he has written about rural California for many years. This is his crowning achievement, a work of reportage that is also a work of literature. It belongs on the short list of great books about the state.”—David L. Ulin, author of Sidewalking: Coming to Terms with Los Angeles, and editor of the Library of America’s Collected Didion

“This is a stunning book. Biblical drama played against the harsh sun and earth of California’s Central Valley. Exodus, diaspora, parting the waters, sowing and reaping, Godlike dominion: it’s all in here.  The Dreamt Land calls up Steinbeck and Didion, but it rests squarely on its own words, memories, and stories beyond mere comparison.”—William Francis Deverell, Director of Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West

“California’s relationship to water is defined by such contradictions and complexities, as evidenced by this brilliant work from Arax… Arax’s combination of research with memoir gives it the necessary lift and motion to make it compelling, brutal, and consistently hard to put down. “We have run out of tricks, or at least the easy ones,” writes Arax at one point of the problem. It is a painful honesty for us to confront, which makes the issue all the more important for readers everywhere to consider. VERDICT: A stunning and uncompromising look at California’s man-made water crisis in the context of its complex history of agricultural growth. Highly recommended for those interested in environmental issues and journalistic nonfiction.”
Library Journal (starred)

“A sweeping, engrossing history of his native California focused on the state’s use, overuse, and shocking mismanagement of water….Arax reveals the consequences to land and wildlife of generations of landowners who have defiantly dug, dammed, and diverted California’s waters.”–Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“Arax brings a reporter’s precision of language, a researcher’s depth of perception, and a born storyteller’s voice to this empathetic but unsentimental look at the history, present, and uncertain future of a once-arid region restructured into one of the country’s most productive.”
Publishers Weekly

Back to Top