The Wild River and the Great Dam

The Construction of Hoover Dam and the Vanishing Colorado River

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Pub Date 12 Mar 2024 | Archive Date 14 Jun 2024

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★ "In this detailed and informative work, Boughton chronicles the construction of the Hoover Dam via compellingly comprehensive text." —Publishers Weekly, starred review

★ "This well-written narrative is bound to become the authority on this modern American marvel." —Booklist, starred review

"A fascinating blend of social and environmental history and engineering." —Kirkus Reviews

"Truly breathtaking. This is a powerful story and like the water slowly rising behind that concrete barrier, it becomes more powerful with each page turn." —David Macaulay, two-time recipient of the Caldecott Medal and creator of the bestselling The Way Things Work

"An exciting mix of research, storytelling, and an astounding true story—one that’s still unfolding today." —Steve Sheinkin, three-time National Book Award finalist and Newbery Honor author of Bomb

Discover the complicated history behind the construction of Hoover Dam—one of the country’s most recognizable and far-reaching landmarks—and its lasting political and environmental effects on the Colorado River and the American West.    

At the time of its completion in 1936, Hoover Dam was the biggest dam in the world and the largest feat of architecture and engineering in the country—a statement of national ambition and technical achievement. It turned the wild Colorado River into a tame and securely managed water source, transforming millions of acres of desert into farmland while also providing water and power to the fast-growing population of the Southwest. The concrete monolith quickly became a symbol of American ingenuity; however, its history is laden with contradiction. It provided work for thousands, but it was a dangerous project that exploited desperate workers during the Depression. It helped secure the settlement and economies of the Southwest, but at the expense of Indigenous peoples and the environment; and it created a dependency on the Colorado River’s water, which is under threat from overuse and climate change.

Weaving together elements of engineering, geography, and political and socioeconomic history, and drawing heavily from unpublished oral histories taken from dam workers and their families, Simon Boughton’s thoughtful and compelling debut—featuring historical photographs throughout—follows the construction and impact of Hoover Dam, and how its promise of abundance ultimately created a river in crisis today.

★ "In this detailed and informative work, Boughton chronicles the construction of the Hoover Dam via compellingly comprehensive text." —Publishers Weekly, starred review

★ "This well-written...

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ISBN 9780316380744
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