Dry River

Stories of Life, Death, and Redemption on the Santa Cruz

Ken Lamberton (Author)
Paperback ($26.95), Ebook ($26.95) Buy
Poet and writer Alison Deming once noted, “In the desert, one finds the way by tracing the aftermath of water . . . ”

Here, Ken Lamberton finds his way through a lifetime of exploring southern Arizona’s Santa Cruz River. This river—dry, still, and silent one moment, a thundering torrent of mud the next—serves as a reflection of the desert around it: a hint of water on parched sand, a path to redemption across a thirsty landscape.

With his latest book, Lamberton takes us on a trek across the land of three nations—the United States, Mexico, and the Tohono O’odham Nation—as he hikes the river’s path from its source and introduces us to people who draw identity from the river—dedicated professionals, hardworking locals, and the author’s own family. These people each have their own stories of the river and its effect on their lives, and their narratives add immeasurable richness and depth to Lamberton’s own astute observations and picturesque descriptions.

Unlike books that detail only the Santa Cruz’s decline, Dry River offers a more balanced, at times even optimistic, view of the river that ignites hope for reclamation and offers a call to action rather than indulging in despair and resignation. At once a fascinating cultural history lesson and an important reminder that learning from the past can help us fix what we have damaged, Dry River is both a story about the amazing complexity of this troubled desert waterway and a celebration of one man’s lifelong journey with the people and places touched by it.
“Historically, culturally, ecologically, and aesthetically, Dry River records the river’s metamorphoses in order to reconstruct five hundred years of geological and social change. With scholarly expertise artfully enlivened by his five super-keen senses and much literary skill, Lamberton has produced a southwestern environmental classic.”—Harold Fromm, author of The Nature of Being Human: From Environmentalism to Consciousness

“Time is, of course, a river. So as Ken Lamberton walks the two-hundred-mile length of the Santa Cruz River near Tucson, he travels also through the long histories of the people who sank their roots in the sandy washes. Lamberton is an amiable and well-informed guide, and the territory he covers is fascinating.”—Kathleen Dean Moore, author of Wild Comfort
“In this eloquent riparian love story, all things ultimately flow together: past and present and future, family and place, struggle and hope, and even earthly exploration and the search for signs of life on Mars. Taking stock of his life in the Santa Cruz watershed and stalking the passionate history and subtle natural patterns of this (often) dry river, Ken Lamberton warmly embraces his amazing family and the extraordinary desert characters, human and otherwise, of southern Arizona and northern Mexico. This is a compelling work of hope and celebration.”—Scott Slovic, editor of ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment

"The narrative is delightful, and is told as the author walks sections of the Santa Cruz River, from its headwaters to its confluence more than 200 miles away. Often it is a wifeor daughter who drops him off or picks him up from his journey or accompanies him. The poetry of the page is matched by the humanity of the author's story."—Electronic Green Journal

"A literary act of river restoration."—High Country News
Dry River
288 Pages 6 x 9 x 0.7
Published: March 2011Paperback ISBN: 9780816529216
Published: March 2011Ebook ISBN: 9780816501182

For Authors

The University of Arizona Press publishes the work of leading scholars from around the globe. Learn more about submitting a proposal, preparing your final manuscript, and publication.



The University of Arizona Press is proud to share our books with readers, booksellers, media, librarians, scholars, and instructors. Join our email Newsletter. Request reprint licenses, information on subsidiary rights and translations, accessibility files, review copies, and desk and exam copies.


Support the Press

Support a premier publisher of academic, regional, and literary works. We are committed to sharing past, present, and future works that reflect the special strengths of the University of Arizona and support its land-grant mission.