Selected Works

Climate Change
"This is on the short list of key books for anyone who lives in or loves the American southwest--with scientific precision and understated emotional power, it explains what your future holds. If you live elsewhere: it's a deep glimpse into one place on our fast-changing planet, and you'll be able to do many extrapolations. Remarkable work!"
--Bill MCKibben, author Eaarth: Making Life on a Tough New Planet

"As deBuys wanders from Las Vegas to Mesa Verde to the Glen Canyon Dam, he gives the past and present their due as he maps our way to a drier future. No longer are aridity and climate change in the Southwest only of regional interest; deBuys is writing for America and we should all listen to what he has to say.”
--Colleen Mondor, Booklist
Supple and silvery ... The Walk defines hope in terms of mountain and sky, river and pine, mindfulness and love.
--Donna Seaman, Booklist
Biography and Memoir
"It brims with gifts of language and vision." --Barbara Kingsolver, New York Times Book Review
"This is a grand book, valuable and exquisite on level after level."
--Charles Wilkinson
"This compilation, with skillful editing and commentary by William deBuys, is an essential book for anyone who ventures west of the hundredth meridian." -- Bruce Babbitt, Secretary of the Interior, 1993-2001
"This book is fascinating from beginning to end." --New Mexico Magazine


  • July 31, 2013 TomDispatch Article:Never Again Enough
  • July 30, 2013 LA Times Op-Ed: The Drying of the West


    truthout, May 30, 2012: The Coming Mega-Drought: Tightening the Screws of Want and Thirst in the American Southwest "Read this book. It's well written and very valuable. It documents why political corruption and its accompanying higher temperatures are having a deadly effect on nature and society in the US Southwest. It should become required reading for all those inhabiting the Southwest."

    The Washington Post, May 25, 2012: "Non-experts who want a concrete sense of climate change’s impact — and a lyrical reading experience — should turn to A Great Aridness
    by William deBuys . . . . By reading books like deBuys’s, Americans might begin to envision an end to the climate wars. In chronicling changing weather patterns and their effects on Southwestern history, he suggests that shifts might come in fits and starts, rather than in the straight line some might be looking for. But the shift is happening. “It seems that when the climate changed, it did not change in just one way,” he writes. “Perhaps it never does." Book review by Juliet Eilperin

    The New York Times Science Times, December 27, 2011: Portraits of the Southwest in the Shadow of Drought: “The story of the West is essentially a story about water,” Dr. deBuys writes. Water, that is, “and its lack.” In his hands, it is a sweeping story, encompassing global weather patterns, the mysterious histories and farming practices of the native people whose settlements rose and vanished in the desert, and the firefighters, biologists, anthropologists, water administrators and others who deal with increasing dryness today and seek to plan for an even drier tomorrow.

    The Austin American Statesman, December 17, 2011: From Kirkus Reviews "Although readers may miss the traditional upbeat ending, they will appreciate this intelligent account of water politics, forest ecology and urban planning in a region seriously stressed."

    A Great Aridness: Climate Change and the Future of the American Southwest Tom Englehardt on A Great Aridness in Tomgram: William deBuys, The Parching of the West: "His new book, A Great Aridness: Climate Change and the Future of the American Southwest, is the definitive work on the subject of water and the West (and, as with all of his work, a pleasure to read)."

    Booklist says: "deBuys takes a broad approach in a manner that affirms his standing beside John McPhee and Wallace Stegner. No longer are aridity and climate change in the Southwest only of regional interest; deBuys is writing for America and we should all listen to what he has to say." — Colleen Mondor, Booklist

    A Great Aridness was launched on Sunday, October 30th at Collected Works Bookstore in Santa Fe. At the launch, author William deBuys discussed A Great Aridness with writer Frederick Turner.

    Writer and conservationist William deBuys is the author of seven books, which range from memoir and biography to environmental history and studies of place. A native of Maryland, he attended the University of North Carolina, where he was graduated with highest honors in 1972. Soon afterwards, the writer and social critic Robert Coles brought him to New Mexico as a research assistant, initiating deBuys’s deep relationship with the cultures and landscapes of the Southwest.

    DeBuys’s books include Enchantment and Exploitation: The Life and Hard Times of a New Mexico Mountain Range (UNM Press, 1985), which won a Southwest Book Award and is now in its ninth printing; River of Traps (UNM Press, 1990; Trinity University Press, 2008), which was recognized as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and was one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize in General Non-Fiction in 1991; Salt Dreams: Land and Water in Low-Down California (UNM Press, 1999), which won the Western States Book Award and several other prizes; Seeing Things Whole: the Essential John Wesley Powell (Shearwater Press, 2001); Valles Caldera: A Vision for New Mexico’s National Preserve (Museum of New Mexico Press, 2006), winner of a Southwest Book Award; and The Walk (Trinity University Press, 2007), an excerpt from which won a Pushcart Prize in 2008.

    DeBuys’s shorter work has appeared in Orion, The New York Times Book Review, Doubletake, Story, Northern Lights, High Country News, Rangelands, and other periodicals and anthologies.

    DeBuys has long been active in environmental affairs. From 1982 to 1986 he directed the North Carolina Chapter of the Nature Conservancy and from the late 1980s through the 1990s he represented The Conservation Fund in the Southwest. His efforts have led to the permanent protection of over 150,000 acres of wild lands in North Carolina and the Southwest.

    From 1997 to 2004 he developed and directed the Valle Grande Grass Bank, a cooperative effort involving ranchers, conservationists, and public agencies in the rehabilitation of rangelands in northern New Mexico. In 2000 the effort earned the National Range Management Award of the U. S. Forest Service. From 2001 to 2004, under appointment by President William Clinton, he served as founding chairman of the Valles Caldera Trust, which administers the 89,000-acre Valles Caldera National Preserve under an experimental approach to the management of public lands.

    DeBuys earned an MA and PhD in American Civilization from the University of Texas at Austin, finishing in 1982. He was named a Lyndhurst Fellow for 1986-1988, a Carl and Florence King Fellow at SMU in 1999-2000, and a Guggenheim Fellow in 2008-2009.

    Today he lives on the farm he has tended since 1976 in the remote village of El Valle in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains between Santa Fe and Taos.