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A Thirsty LandA Thirsty Land

The Making of an American Water Crisis

Seamus McGraw

Narrated by Fred Filbrich

Available from Audible

Book published by University of Texas Press

As a changing climate threatens the whole country with deeper droughts and more furious floods that put ever more people and property at risk, Texas has become a bellwether state for water debates. Will there be enough water for everyone? Is there the will to take the steps necessary to defend ourselves against the sea? Is it in the nature of Americans to adapt to nature in flux?

The most comprehensive—and comprehensible—book on contemporary water issues, A Thirsty Land delves deep into the challenges faced not just by Texas but by the nation as a whole, as we struggle to find a way to balance the changing forces of nature with our own ever-expanding needs. Part history, part science, part adventure story, and part travelogue, this book puts a human face on the struggle to master that most precious and capricious of resources, water. Seamus McGraw goes to the taproots, talking to farmers, ranchers, businesspeople, and citizen activists, as well as to politicians and government employees. Their stories provide chilling evidence that Texas—and indeed the nation—is not ready for the next devastating drought, the next catastrophic flood. Ultimately, however, A Thirsty Land delivers hope. This deep dive into one of the most vexing challenges facing Texas and the nation offers glimpses of the way forward in the untapped opportunities that water also presents

Seamus McGraw is the author of The End of Country: Dispatches from the Frack Zone and Betting the Farm on a Drought: Stories from the Front Lines of Climate Change. His award-winning writing has also appeared in the New York Times, Huffington Post, Playboy, Popular Mechanics, and Reader’s Digest.


“A reporting tour de force and reminiscent of Cadillac Desert, the 1986 book by Marc Reisner that is required reading for anyone seeking to understand water policy in the West. McGraw’s work is similarly nuanced, thoroughly researched and beautifully written. . . McGraw showcases a deep understanding of Texas law, history and culture. There’s a desire not just to explain where we stand now, but how we got here.”

Texas Observer

“McGraw's book proves that the United States simply isn't ready for the next big drought or flood. This is a problem that's been brewing for a long time, and climate change is about to make it worse. Gulp.”


“Although A Thirsty Land is Texas-based, it raises questions about water as a resource and commodity that fits any location; questions we should all be considering regardless of where we live and the prodigiousness of our local water resources.”

Block Island Times

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University Press Audiobooks