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This informative look at water politics traces the fierce battles that raged around the transformation of California's Central Valley from semiarid desert into the most environmentally altered agricultural region in history.
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California produces much of America's food on some of its most arid land, the San Joaquin Valley. How did this happen? The Mercy of Nature tells the story of the politicians and engineers who created the largest system of water works ever executed, providing practically free water to farmers in the basin. Interviews and newsreel footage combine with haunting portraits of the miles of highway and acres of fields to bring the valley's story to life. The machinations of big business to exploit the government, the water, and the land are exposed, as well as the party-killing political atmosphere following revelations of pesticide buildup and cost overruns. Vivid, beautiful, and funny at times, this is a moving tribute to the small-time farmers who were there before the big projects and will remain after they're gone. Like the rest of the Cadilllac Desert series, The Mercy of Nature reminds us of our limits. --Rob Lightner
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