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MEDIA REVIEWS

Sept, 2007

"I was overwhelmed with the magnitude of the river and the force of the water.  The damage to the dams down river, the towns, farms and the California aquifer are unbelievable, and Hansen makes you feel that you are right there."

 

WET DESERT
by Gary Hansen
Hole Shot Press 

I had mixed emotions about reading this book.  I wasn’t sure if it would be a book about the environmental dogma about draining Lake Powell .  However, after a slow start, I found that I was really enjoying the writing and the story line.   

A terrorist blows up the Glen Canyon dam, and though he is not identified until later in the book, his comments about the “river telling him it wanted to be free” convince the reader, that this is no ordinary environmentalist, rather one that was obsessed, unwilling to allow for any other opinion than his own, and willing to go to any length or cost to do what he wanted.   The dam was blown, and what started as a five foot hole became seventy five feet then total failure of the dam.  

I was overwhelmed with the magnitude of the river and the force of the water.  How many hours till the flood would hit the hover dam, and whether the dam would hold the onslaught of water, were the first items of concern for Grant Stevens (Bureau of Reclamation).   

The author actually had Stevens use a great deal of common sense in dealing with the horrific flooding, literally saving hundreds of thousands of lives with his quick and decisive action.  (Not common for government bureaus) The damage to the dams down river, the towns, farms and the California aquifer are unbelievable, and Hansen makes you feel that you are right there, as the water lifts and carries “rocks the size of semi trucks” swiftly down the river.  

The reader fears with the rafters in the canyon, as the water rises rapidly and they can not get out.  The boaters at Lake Powell vying for gas at dangling rope marina for the trip back to Wawheap, realize that the water level is down, but have no idea what is still ahead for them.  

Though the story ends well, it ends when the recovery is just beginning.  The cost of repairs and clean up to the American taxpayers would be beyond belief.  The hundreds of thousands of people left without drinking water and power would be a disaster of epic proportions and there was no mention of the damage that the Grand Canyon suffered, but the reader is sure, it would never be the same.   

The reader does gain a sense of how much of the American West, as well as Mexico depend on the stability and ever working system, of dams and canals for our very livelihood.

Karla Johnson