33 halftones, 2 graphs, 2 tables

High and Dry

The Texas-New Mexico Struggle for the Pecos River
By G. Emlen Hall



Water law, water politics, and especially water shenanigans are at the center of this book about New Mexico and Texas dividing the Pecos River. On one level the story is about a twenty-year court case, Texas v. New Mexico, a monstrous law suit between two states sharing a common water source, a state boundary, and a long history of mutual enmity. On another level, this story is as big and far-reaching as the high plains drained by the Pecos: it is part memoir, part biography, and part environmental history, part the history of hydrology, and part a contribution to the annals of litigation in the great tradition of Anthony Lewis and Jonathan Harr.

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.

"One of the best books anywhere on the heart and soul of western water, High and Dry will leave you awed and flabbergasted by the intricacy, chicanery, mystery, and good old nonstop adventure of interstate water disputes. It is a joy to read, rich in humor and quirky personalities."--John Nichols

"A major contribution to western water law and history in the tradition of Donald Worster. High and Dry is essential reading."--Dan Tarlock, Chicago-Kent College of Law

Contributor Bios
G. Emlen Hall is professor emeritus in the School of Law at the University of New Mexico. His most recent book is High and Dry (UNM Press).