NWNL Book List

Compiled by No Water No Life ®


This list of books in the No Water No Life library was compiled for visitors to our NWNL exhibit at the Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries. It focuses on the subjects covered in that exhibit (March – October, 2015). By no means is this an all-encompassing list of all watershed issues.


Watershed Values

Do we value our rivers enough?

Clarke, Robin and Jannet King. The Water Atlas: A Unique Visual Analysis of the World’s Most Critical Resource. NY: The New Press, 2004. Abundant maps, charts, facts and references present a quick analysis of today’s pressing water issues.

Fagan, Brian. Elixir: A History of Water and Humankind. NY: Bloomsbury Press, 2011. Eye-opening lessons from the history of the world’s human civilizations suggest water ethos and management practices that could help foster global water security.

Leopold, Luna B. A View of the River. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 1994. These insights on research on rivers over the last fifty years are a great primer for any scientist, watershed steward, or natural resource manager.

Rezendes, Paul and Paulette Roy. Wetlands: The Web of Life. Burlington VT: Verve Editions, 1996. These descriptions and images of the values of wetlands reveal the beauty and importance of wetlands biomass – often 10 to 1,000 times that of dry land nearby.

Ryerson, Marjorie Water Music: Sixty-six renowned musicians from around the world celebrate water in words and music. Ann Arbor MI: University of Michigan Press, 2003. Water and music are as essential to life as their sounds are reassuring and enjoyable.

Dams & Levees versus Rivers

Should our rivers run free?

Grossman, Elizabeth. Watershed: The Undamming of America. NY: Counterpoint, 2002. Examining past, present and future attitudes towards damming, this book probes into dam removal as a means to returning rivers to former free-flowing healthy conditions.

Harden, Blaine. A River Lost: The Life and Death of the Columbia. NY: W. W. Norton and Company, 1996. The Columbia one of the world’s most heavily dammed rivers in the world, has been called, “The West’s most thoroughly-conquered river.” The author investigates complex cultural and environmental prices of this sacrifice.

Hawley, Stephen. Recovering a Lost River: Removing Dams, Rewilding Salmon, Revitalizing Communities. Boston: Beacon Press, 2011. This probe investigates hurdles to the removal of four Snake River dams that prevent millions of salmon from migrating to their spawning grounds.

Reisner, Marc. Cadillac Desert: The American West and its Disappearing Water. NY: Penguin Books, 1986. This tale of two rivers diverted and dammed reveals how the Bureau of Reclamation, the US Army Corps of Engineers, and California politicians have controlled rivers in the US West for agriculture and booming urban centers.

Waldman, John. Running Silver: Restoring Atlantic Rivers and Their Great Fish Migrations. Guilford CT: Lyons Press, 2013. This author argues that the loss of river-fish in the Hudson and many East Coast rivers can be reversed allowing salmon, shad, herring and other fish to return.

Water Pollution and Appropriation

Must food & material needs degrade our waters?

Barlow, Maude and Tony Clarke. Blue Gold: The Fight to Stop the Corporate Theft of the World’s Water. NY: The New Press, 2002. Bottled water and profit-driven water usage are said to pollute and deplete public water resources and hurt communities’ health and welfare.

Bowden, Charles. Killing the Hidden Waters. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2003. This book notes impacts on our water resources by expanding populations and industrial growth.

Glennon, Robert. Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What To Do About It. Washington DC: Island Press, 2009. Water security is described as dependent on whether our leaders will restrain over-extraction by agriculture, industry and the energy sector.

Misrach, Richard and Kate Orff. Petrochemical America. NY: Aperture Foundation, 2010. A photographer and landscape architect call for Baton Rouge-New Orleans communities, corporate states and each of us to stop industry’s pollution of this Mississippi River corridor and present plans for ways to regenerate its contaminated, neglected riverscapes.

Climate Change & Population

Will we have enough water for all?

Collins (editors). Fragile Earth: Views of a Changing World. NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 2006. Acknowledging the constancy of environmental change, this book demands we face today’s new challenges of changing coastlines, expanding cities and advancing deserts.

Pearce, Fred. When the Rivers Run Dry: Water – The Defining Crisis of the Twenty-first Century. Boston: Beacon Press, 2006. This author presents a thirty-country overview of ground-shifting water issues and need for a new water ethos.

Prud’homme, Alex. The Ripple Effect: The Fate of Freshwater in the Twenty-First Century. NY: Scribner, 2011. This broad-based inquiry asks whether there will be enough drinkable water to satisfy future demand.

Smolan, Rick and Jennifer Erwitt. Blue Planet Run: The Race to Provide Safe Drinking Water to the World. San Rafael CA: Earth Aware, 2007. Using supporting facts, this large photographic book tells of a global relay race recording the human face of growing water crises.

Conflicts over Water

Are water wars avoidable?

Churchill, Winston. The River War: An Historical Account of the Reconquest of the Soudan (1899). British Imperialists in Sudan were focused on Egypt’s need for water from the Upper Nile. Today, threats of Nile Basin conflicts continue as Sudan and Egypt refuse to sign the Nile Basin Compact on water sharing, which the other 8 Nile Basin countries have endorsed as equitable.

Klare, Michael T. Resource Wars: The New Landscape of Global Conflict. NY: Henry Holt and Company, 2001. Addressing riparian rights as perhaps the greatest problem of the future, this author documents worrisome conflicts from the Mideast to China, from tribal African regions to arid ranches in the Colorado River Basin.

Shiva, Vandana. Water Wars: Privatization, Pollution, and Profit. Cambridge MA: South End Press, 2002. The Director of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology, and Natural Resource Policy contends that the fragility of communal water rights in the face of international water trade, damming, mining and aqua-farming leaves the world’s poor with less water.

Ward, Diane Raines. Water Wars: Drought, Flood, Folly, and the Politics of Thirst. NY: Riverhead Books, 2002. Looking at what does and doesn’t insure water availability, this book details the work of hydrologists, politicians, engineers and others in trying to solve water conflicts.

Stewardship & Restoration

Are grassroots efforts enough?

Barlow, Maude. Blue Future: Protecting Water for People and the Planet Forever. NY: The New Press, 2013. This hopeful book offers ways to safeguard Earth’s most critical resource for a “water-secure” and “water-just” future.

Barnett, Cynthia. Blue Revolution: Unmaking America’s Water Crisis. Boston: Beacon Press, 2011. Writing of global, innovative water projects, the author promotes stewardship tactics ranging from thrift to water gardens.

Cronin, John and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. The Riverkeepers: Two Activists Fight to Reclaim our Environment as a Basic Human Right. NY: Simon and Shuster, 1997. These authors took on polluters, politicians, and corporations in their fight for a clean Hudson River, from which Riverkeepers and Waterkeeper Alliance grew into international efforts to maintain clean rivers.

Jackson, Dana L. and Laura L. Jackson. The Farm as Natural Habitat: Reconnecting Food Systems with Ecosystems. Washington DC: Island Press, 2002. This view of agricultural issues ties together Aldo Leopold’s land ethic and 21st-century farming issues to inspire innovation and change on farms, in landscapes and with irrigation.

Joseph, May. Fluid New York: Cosmopolitan Urbanism and the Green Imagination. Durham NC: Duke University Press, 2013. Coming after Hurricane Sandy battered New York’s archipelago of heavily-populated islands, this book proposes urban waterfront restoration, civic engagement and a commitment to ecological sustainability.

Kinkade-Levario, Heather. Design for Water: Rainwater Harvesting, Stormwater Catchment, and Alternate Water Reuse. BC, Canada: New Society Publishers, 2007. This author presents innovative means of water collection and reuse, such as passive harvesting of water from condensate from fog, air conditioning and cooling towers – with helpful installation diagrams.

Kurlansky, Mark. The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell. NY: Random House, 2007. This compelling history discusses the cultural, gastronomic and ecological influences of oysters, especially in New York City.

Orff, Kate. Gateway: Visions for an Urban National Park. NY: Princeton Architecture Press, 2011. This renowned urban-restoration architect outlines the unrealized potentials for the coastal lands of Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and New Jersey.

Pacheco, Elizabeth. The Water Book: A User’s Guide to Understanding, Protecting, and Preserving Earth’s Most Precious Resource. Hobart NY: Hatherleigh Press, 2011. This little paperback explores choices that could assure sustainable water resources and empower people to be stewards of water supplies.

Richter, Brian. Chasing Water: A Guide for Moving from Scarcity to Sustainability. Washington DC: Island Press, 2014. This book proposes that citizen-empowered water governance and stewardship can provide durable, effective solutions to water scarcity.

Wood, Mary Christina. Nature’s Trust: Environmental Law for a New Ecological Age. NY: Cambridge University Press, 2014. The author claims environmental law must ensure public property rights are given to vital resources, per the public trust doctrine.

Children’s Books on Water

It’s never too early to become aware!

Robert Baron and Thomas Locker. Hudson: the Story of a River. Golden CO: Fulcrum Publishing, 2004. This author-illustrator team uses a Hudson School style of art and history of this Gateway to the US West to inspire the young into stewardship. (For 2nd grade and up)

Base, Graeme. The Water Hole: A Counting Book. NY: Abrams Books for Young Readers. 2001. This is a creative introduction to the importance of water to all species and suggests the consequences of a dry water hole. (For Pre-school)

Holling, Holling Clancy. Minn of the Mississippi. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1951. This Newberry Award classic describes, illustrates and maps travails and ecosystems experienced by a turtle swimming, floating and being hurtled down the Mississippi River from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mississippi. (For 3rd grade and up)

Mayer, Cassie. Rivers and Streams. Chicago: Heinemann Library, 2008. Photographs and simple text describe bodies of water, how they form, how we use them, and various riverine ecosystems. (For Kindergarten and up)

Woodward, John. Eyewitness: Water. NY: DK Publishing, 2009. Many topics are covered in the book, its CD of clip art, and the 22x31” colorful wall chart from the water cycle to water conflict, power and supply. (For middle/junior-high school and up)

Also see bibliographies for:

Snake River Basin Expedition ’14
California Drought Expedition, Aug. ’15