While High and Dry focuses on clashes of principles and personalities, especially in the courtroom, it remains very much a story about a river and its world in an arid region. There are irrigators here, including the leading “old families” of southeastern New Mexico, and there is nature here, including “the vampires of the West,” the rapacious salt cedars relentlessly sucking up the precious Pecos stream flow. But beneath them all is the author, inviting readers to see how tiny gardens grown for the soul are as crucial to the overall story as the adjudication of water rights. Hall gives a masterful summary of the legal and scientific parts of the story, but he excels in letting us feel and care about water in the same manner as do the people who use it to grow crops.
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