The story of the American West is the story of the relentless quest to control and allocate nature's most common, and the West's most precious, resource: water. Cadillac Desert recounts this dramatic saga. The early settlers were lured by free land. But there was not enough water to sustain them, and they drifted on. Only the Mormons stayed, carefully tending a system of irrigation canals that tempered perpetual drought. Their success gave birth to federal aid programs, principally the Bureau of Reclamation. Without the bureau, without Hoover, Shasta and Grand Coulee, the West as we know it would not exist.