William T Vollmann
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From the author of Europe Central, a journalistic tour de force along the Mexican-American border.
For generations of migrant workers, Imperial Country has held the promise of paradise and the reality of hell. It sprawls across a stirring accidental sea, across the deserts, date groves and labor camps of Southeastern California, right across the border into Mexico. In this eye-opening book, William T. Vollmann takes us deep into the heart of this haunted region, exploring polluted rivers and guarded factories and talking with everyone from Mexican migrant workers to border patrolmen. Teeming with patterns, facts, stories, people and hope, this is an epic study of an emblematic region.
fewer than fifty-seven irrigation companies see fit to gamble in the foothills east of Los Angeles alone. In short, to pay for our reservoirs we’ll increase our population, who will then need more water. Never mind that; WATER IS HERE. An inventory follows: Now, in the forty-two hundred square miles of western San Diego, which will be all that remains of that county once Imperial and Riverside counties break away, we find seven main rivers, flowing more or less in parallel southwest into the
How fortunate we are in planting our grove at this late date, as formerly we would have been required to have drilled a deep well, . . . but with the coming of the canal from the Colorado River, we are definitely assured of adequate water at a cost considerably less than were we to depend on pump irrigation. By the middle of the decade, many farmers already need tile drains due to salinity caused by over-irrigation. Chapter 110 RIVERSIDE (1950) Confidence in the continued growth of
starting at six-thirty at night and finishing at six-forty in the morning. They gave her forty minutes to eat and seven hundred pesos a week. It was a four-day week, which sounded not so bad to me. How about your health? I asked. I know that sometimes working with plastics can be hazardous. Well, my eyes are getting worse. It’s pretty dim, and because you can’t see well and you’re tired, it affects your eyes. I examine the little pieces of plastic for telephones and make sure they’re clean and
at the Hotel Chinesca; she, too, was happy.335 It was wonderful for me to become in miniature Natalio Morales Rebolorio, the Santa Claus of citrus! Closing my eyes now to remember him, I see him from the back as I follow him down the pathway through the orange trees. Chapter 179 BROCK FARMS (2004) Ben Brock was a third-generation asparagus farmer in Holtville. Richard Brogan knew him and said: They used to own a lot of farmland in the central part of the valley. They were really big here
yields are reduced. Globally 25-30 percent of irrigated soils in arid regions are salinized. Human-induced soil salinization is usually the result of applying excessive amounts of water to irrigated lands and raising water tables. Evaporation of groundwater concentrates the salts that are always present in soils . . .” Yolanda Sánchez Ogás—Interviewed in Mexicali, 2003. Terrie Petree interpreted. Amounts of water bypassed at Morelos, and the water consultant’s opinions of that—ICHSPM, document