I am reading this amazing book called Cadillac Desert (see left) about the history of water, or the lack thereof, in the American West. It starts, naturally, with the Owens Valley water grab by Los Angeles in the late 19th and early 20th century. It is truly incredible the lenths the went to -- and are still going to -- to get water to Los Angeles, which is essentially in a desert. Basically, they took water from an agricultural region -- the Owens Valley, east of the Sierras -- and brought it to the San Fernando Valley to make it an agricultural reason. That may be oversimplifying it a bit, but thousands of people died and many more than that lost their homes and livelihood along the way. And Manifest Destiny kept most people in power -- all the way up to the White House -- from questioning the moral and financial soundness of these plans.
I'm about a quarter of the way through the book, which is sizeable, and so far it's very readable and I recommend it. If you have limited reading time, though, at least get it from the library and read the introduction.