It sprawls across a stinking artificial sea, across the deserts, date groves, and labor camps of southeastern California, right across the Mexican border. For generations of migrant workers, from Okies fleeing the Dust Bowl of the 1930s to Mexican laborers today, Imperial County has held the promise of paradise - and the reality of hell. It is a land beautiful and harsh, enticing and deadly, rich in history and heartbreak. Across the border, the desert is the same but there are different secrets.
In Imperial, award-winning writer William T. Vollmann takes us deep into the heart of this haunted region, and by extension into the dark soul of American imperialism. Known for his penetrating meditations on poverty and violence, Vollmann has spent ten years doggedly investigating every facet of this bi-national locus, raiding archives, exploring polluted rivers, guarded factories, and Chinese tunnels, talking with everyone from farmers to border patrolmen in his search for the fading American dream and its Mexican equivalent. The result is a majestic book that addresses current debates on immigration, agribusiness, and corporate exploitation, issues that will define America's identity in the twenty-first century.
William T. Vollmann
Born in 1959, William T. Vollmann is a graduate of Cornell University. He was a recipient of a 1988 Whiting Writers Award, and in 1999 the New Yorker named him one of the twenty best writers in America under forty.
He is the author of nine novels (including Europe Central, which won the 2005 National Book Award), three collections of stories, a memoir, three works of nonfiction, and a seven volume meditation on nonviolence in history, which was a finalist for the 2003 National Book Critics Circle Award in Nonfiction. Vollmann's journalism has appeared in The New Yorker, Esquire, Spin, Granta, Grand Street and Outside Magazine.
Valley extending from southeastern California, U.S., to Mexico. It forms part of the Colorado Desert. Intensive irrigation began in 1901 with the opening of the Imperial Canal, which diverted water from the Colorado River. Floodwaters in 190507 destroyed the irrigation channels and created the Salton Sea. The valley is now watered by the Hoover Dam and the All-American Canal. With 3,000 mi (4,800 km) of irrigation canals, it contains 500,000 acres (200,000 hectares) of cultivated land.