Marc Reisner (1948-2000), an environmental writer who became a celebrity in the water world, was the author of Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water (1986), a best-seller about Western water history and politics and a full-blown critique of 20th century water development, especially in California and the West. “Based on 10 years of research, Cadillac Desert is a stunning expose and a dramatic, provocative history of the creation of an Eden — an Eden that may be only a mirage,” according to the book’s back flap. It is listed on the Modern Library’s 100 Best Non-fiction Books of the 20th century and was a National Book Critics’ Circle Award nominee. It was also made into a PBS documentary series.
Reisner, albeit highly critical of the water industry, changed his mindset over the years from that of a critic to instead a consultant and popular speaker who brought environmentalists and farm and urban water users together to work on water resources issues.
From 1972-1979, he was a staff writer at the Natural Resources Defense Council. He also wrote Overtapped Oasis: Reform or Revolution for Western Water with Sarah Bates, Game Wars: The Undercover Pursuit of Wildlife Poachers and A Dangerous Place: California’s Unsettling Fate. He died at 51 years old of cancer.