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May 2017 Vol. 54 No. 9

University Press of Colorado

The following review appeared in the May 2017 issue of CHOICE. The review is for your internal use only. Please review our Permission and Reprints Guidelines or email

Social & Behavioral Sciences
Political Science - U.S. Politics

Schulte, Steven C. As precious as blood: the Western Slope in Colorado's water wars, 1900–1970. University Press of Colorado, 2016. 286p bibl index ISBN 9781607324997, $41.00; ISBN 9781607325000 ebook, $33.00.

Schulte’s history of how water law and management have evolved in Colorado west of the Continental Divide is a trenchant, well-written, carefully researched investigation that illuminates why the exercise of power over precious natural resources is contentious. Despite the narrow geographic focus, students of water policy and law will likely agree with the author’s claim—citing the work of others—that the state, generally, has been a “crucible” for water politics or, perhaps more accurately, a theater that reveals the interplay among key regional interests that seek to exploit natural resources on behalf of regional development. Schulte highlights the ways in which water conflicts in Colorado are truly an exercise in local politics—his key argument is that, with respect to water, Colorado is two states in one: a populated, urban, agriculturally robust Eastern Slope and a slower-growing, relatively less-powerful Western Slope. Moreover, competition between them has constituted a nexus over larger policy debates over management of the entire Colorado River basin—the West’s major lifeline. This is a regional history that warrants the attention of scholars interested in the continuing importance of these debates.

--D. L. Feldman, University of California, Irvine

Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty.