• Running Out

  • In Search of Water on the High Plains
  • By: Lucas Bessire
  • Narrated by: John Chancer
  • Length: 6 hrs and 19 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (29 ratings)

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Running Out  By  cover art

Running Out

By: Lucas Bessire
Narrated by: John Chancer
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Publisher's Summary

This audiobook narrated by John Chancer recounts an intimate reckoning with aquifer depletion in America's heartland.

The Ogallala aquifer has nourished life on the American Great Plains for millennia. But less than a century of unsustainable irrigation farming has taxed much of the aquifer beyond repair. The imminent depletion of the Ogallala and other aquifers around the world is a defining planetary crisis of our times. Running Out offers a uniquely personal account of aquifer depletion and the deeper layers through which it gains meaning and force.

Anthropologist Lucas Bessire journeyed back to Western Kansas, where five generations of his family lived as irrigation farmers and ranchers, to try to make sense of this vital resource and its loss. His search for water across the drying High Plains brings the listener face-to-face with the stark realities of industrial agriculture, eroding democratic norms, and surreal interpretations of a looming disaster. Yet the destination is far from predictable, as the book seeks to move beyond the words and genres through which destruction is often known. Instead, this journey into the morass of eradication offers a series of unexpected discoveries about what it means to inherit the troubled legacies of the past and how we can take responsibility for a more inclusive, sustainable future.

An urgent and unsettling meditation on environmental change, Running Out is a revelatory account of family, complicity, loss, and what it means to find your way back home.

©2021 Lucas Bessire (P)2021 Princeton University Press

Critic Reviews

"A marvelous achievement. Weaving a thread of human decency through a blanket of unrecoverable loss, Bessire delivers a damning message about our great incapacity to respond to an imminent crisis and our misplaced faith in an agricultural economic treadmill." (Loka Ashwood, author of For-Profit Democracy: Why the Government Is Losing the Trust of Rural America)

"Powerful. Bessire tells a tragic and infuriating story of massive, earth-shattering loss juxtaposed with the cultivated world and the human search for meaning and purpose." (Kathleen Stewart, author of A Space on the Side of the Road: Cultural Poetics in an "Other" America)

What listeners say about Running Out

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Aquifer Depletion

Engaging story where the author reconciles with his estranged father to go on an investigation of aquifer depletion in southwestern Kansas. It is wonderfully written where you feel like you are along for the ride with them in the Great Plains. The information they uncover digs deep not only in the community and system at large, but is also part of their family history.

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Water is life, so….

What an amazing lyrical, factual, and multi faceted story. Part water history, family and community story . It’s southwestern KS but it’s all of our story.

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I'm Stuck Between Wooed & Afraid

Bessire shocks the conscience and pulls away apathetic scabs causing us confront realities we would rather not face but simultaneously soothes those spots with a rich story and writing style that makes me feel a part of the story. I really hope people whose communities are affected by ground water depletion worldwide will engage and create win/win changes.

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Great Listen

A very educational tale on the problems of aquifer depletion & overarching bureaucracy, beautifully narrated by the calming and smooth voice of John Chancer. With descriptive landscapes the likes of Willa Cather, and riveting journalism the likes of Bob Woodward, this story will not leave you wanting. I especially appreciate that the farmers in this story are not dehumanized or made out to be the bad guys, but victims of circumstance, and respectable workers. 10/10 would read again. Also, hello Snufkin.