Water, Land, and Law in the West
The Limits of Public Policy
Donald J. Pisani
This volume features the best and most influential essays by Donald Pisani, one of our nation's leading environmental and western historians. Collectively, the essays highlight the central role played by land, water, and timber allocation in the American West and show how efforts to achieve justice and efficiency were compromised by the region's obsession with achieving rapid economic growth.
Pisani's work underscores the importance of natural resources to the American vision of opportunity and social progress, as well as the limits of federal influence in resolving the complex tensions between national and local control, between government regulation and laissez-faire capitalism, between democratic and corporate power, and between development and conservation.
“Pisani painstakingly researches his subject, thoughtfully analyzes its implications, and writes clearly and perceptively. Bringing these articles together is a tribute to his skills and a valuable contribution to students of the history of the West, the environment, natural resources, and the Progressive Era.”
—Journal of American History
“Taken as a whole, these essays constitute a broad overview of Pisani’s contributions to the field of natural resource history, an excellent source of information and interpretation of a complex subject.”
—Western Historical QuarterlySee all reviews...
“These brilliant articles now stand together as sentinels for generations of future historians to follow.”
“A nuanced collection of essays full of insight and wisdom.”
“This important book demonstrates the range of complex influences that shaped the region’s physical and legal landscape.”
—Great Plains Quarterly
“Over the past decade, Donald J. Pisani has proven himself to be one of the nation&8217;s most thoughtful and meticulous scholars of natural resource law and its history. This book gathers together his most important essays. It is a collection that every student of American conservation policy will want to own.”
—William J. Cronon, author of Nature's Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West, 1848–1893
“Pisani’s great scholarly virtue is his ability to reveal in the making and implementation of public policy the actual environmental consequences for people and the land. These essays show why he is a leading scholar of the American West.”
—Richard White, author of The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650’1815
“Each of Pisani’s pieces is a model of scholarship and makes a significant contribution in its own right. Collectively, they should prove invaluable to scholars in a wide range of disciplines.”
—Norris Hundley, author of The Great Thirst: Californians and Water, 1770s–1990s
“A remarkable body of work that serves as a model for understanding the underlying premises of a society and its relationship to the physical world.”
—Hal K. Rothman, editor of Environmental History ReviewSee fewer reviews...
His work reminds us that westerners, ever wary of any form of centralized planning, have been far more supportive of the marketplace than government direction, and he demonstrates just how difficult it is to alter natural resource policies to keep pace with changing times and values. For those already familiar with Pisani or those coming to him for the first time, this is an invaluable volume.