Selected Works

A Search for One of Earth's Rarest Creatures
In 1992, in a remote mountain range, a team of scientists discovered the remains of an unusual animal with beautiful long horns. It turned out to be a living species new to western science -- a saola, the first large land mammal discovered in 50 years. Rare then and rarer now, no westerner had glimpsed a live saola before Pulitzer Prize finalist and nature writer William deBuys and conservation biologist William Robichaud set off to search for it in the wilds of central Laos. The team endured a punishing trek, up and down whitewater rivers and through mountainous terrain ribboned with the snare lines of armed poachers.
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

Recent and Upcoming

  • September 5, 2014 Celebrating the Great Law: The Wilderness Act at 50 Celebrating the Great Law: The Wilderness Act at 50 was a gathering hosted by the Getches-Wilkinson Center & The Wilderness Society at the Wolf Law Building, Boulder, Colorado on September 4th and 5th. The event included keynotes by authors Rick Bass, William deBuys, and William Kittredge.

  • September 28, 2014 Celebrating the Great Law: The Wilderness Act at 50 Article in TomDispatch

  • October 4, 2014 Crew chief at the El Valle ‘sentence factory’ Profile of deBuys by J.R. Logan in Taos News

  • October 15-19, 2014 Semester in the West nA writing workshop in El Valle, New Mexico with 20 Semester in the West students from Whitman College.

  • March 10, 2015 The Last Unicorn: A Search for One of Earth's Rarest Creatures The Last Unicorn will be published by Little Brown on March 10, 2015.
    Available for preorder here.

  • Praise for THE LAST UNICORN

    "It would be an understatement to call a forest, in all its deep complexity, merely beautiful. The same goes for The Last Unicorn. As he tracks a living myth through the jungles of Laos, DeBuys’ eyes and ears miss nothing, and his poetic grace conveys everything. I haven’t read a journey so epic, lyrical, and meaningful since Peter Mathiessen’s The Snow Leopard."--Alan Weisman, author of Countdown and The World Without Us

    “This is a great excuse for an adventure—and having taken the excuse, Bill deBuys delivers. What a wonderful account of a 19th century drama in the 21st century, a story the likes of which we may never read again.”—Bill McKibben, author of Wandering Home

    "The Last Unicorn is exhaustively researched, and the trip alone would have made for a riveting read. But it is written with such poetry that it comes as a heart-wrenching wakeup. This book is a beautifully told account of the devastating fact that man alone has relentlessly set about destroying the earth's wildness. It should be required reading for the human race."--Ali MacGraw, actress/activist

    Praise for A GREAT ARIDNESS

    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.