...[an] exhaustive, deeply reported account ... The chronicle of California agriculture has always been mixed — half environmental nightmare, half remarkable success story — and Arax gives himself enough room to report on the positives as well ... Granted, there are times when The Dreamt Land feels overstuffed and chaotically organized, as if Arax decided to include every relevant newspaper feature he’s ever proposed to an editor. But I suspect that few other journalists could have written a book as personal and authoritative ... As Arax makes plain in this important book, it’s been the same story in California for almost two centuries now: When it comes to water, 'the resource is finite. The greed isn’t.'
...riveting ... The Dreamt Land is imbued with deep attachment to place. Arax is a native son descended from Armenian immigrants to the valley; he’s spent most of his working life there...This is a deeply reported work keenly alive to local subcultures — often conditioned by soil and access to water — that debunks notions of the valley as monolithic, like the single crops in its fields ... [Arax] avoids simple vilification of growers, and such prescriptions as he offers — for instance, de-commissioning junk land — are incremental ... Arax is especially insightful on the political currents roiling this Trumpy enclave.
In his sprawling, provocative book, journalist Mark Arax examines California’s long-building water crisis with the keen, loving, troubled eye of a native son ... Although dense with information, The Dreamt Land assumes an urgent, personal tone and incorporates history, memoir and the lives of larger-than-life personalities ... it is a story biblical in scope and cautionary in tenor.