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Imperial

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Imperial Cover

 

Review-A-Day

" Few writers can compose sentences like these with a literary straight face:

I saw this gaze once in a Russian paramilitary policeman during the Yugoslav civil war; he soon held a bayonet to my throat to 'test' me. I saw it in some teenagers in Harlem who seared my arm with a cigarette butt."
Tim Jacobs, Rain Taxi (read the entire Rain Taxi review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

An epic study of an emblematic American region by one of our most celebrated writers.

It sprawls across a stinking artificial sea, across the deserts, date groves, and labor camps of southeastern California, right across the Mexican border. For generations of migrant workers, from Okies fleeing the Dust Bowl of the 1930s to Mexican laborers today, Imperial County has held the promise of paradise — and the reality of hell. It is a land beautiful and harsh, enticing and deadly, rich in history and heartbreak. Across the border, the desert is the same but there are different secrets. In Imperial, award-winning writer William T. Vollmann takes us deep into the heart of this haunted region, and by extension into the dark soul of American imperialism.

Known for his penetrating meditations on poverty and violence, Vollmann has spent ten years doggedly investigating every facet of this bi-national locus, raiding archives, exploring polluted rivers, guarded factories, and Chinese tunnels, talking with everyone from farmers to border patrolmen in his search for the fading American dream and its Mexican equivalent. The result is a majestic book that addresses current debates on immigration, agribusiness, and corporate exploitation, issues that will define America's identity in the twenty-first century.

Review:

"Signature Reviewed by Michael Coffey. This is an exasperating, maddening, exhausting and incohorent book by the stunningly prolific Vollmann, who has really outdone himself. Eleven hundred pages plus endless endnotes about a single county in California is as perverse as Vollmann has dared be — which is saying a lot for a guy who has written a massive collection of tales about skinheads (Rainbow Stories), a seven-volume history of the settling of a measly continent (Seven Dreams) and another seven volumes on the history of violence (Rising Up and Rising Down). But a big book about one county? Well, it's not just any county. Imperial is the southeastern-most county in California, bordering with Mexico to the south and Arizona to the east, across the Colorado River. Is it a place deserving of this seemingly disproportionate chronicle? Today, it is a hot spot for illegal immigration, law enforcement action, drug trafficking, prostitution and sweatshop labor in maquilladoras, fetid border factories. It is a place, sure enough, where imperialism has made its mark. Over the past centuries, a lot of bad things have happened in El Centro, as the region is also called, and very little good, as Vollmann's excessive data-dump demonstrates ad nauseam. The Spanish came, murdered, plundered, left; America annexed; land grabs ensued and Colorado River water was illegally diverted westward to render a temporary agricultural paradise and make a few fortunes. As with most of his books, Vollmann has performed mind-boggling feats of research, gobbling up obscure and arcane texts about the Spanish conquests, hydrography, citrus cultivation, immigration, poverty rates, desalinization, drug use, human smuggling and exploitation of the weak by the wealthy in all its guises as it applies to this benighted, once beautiful desert region. If Vollmann has a point of view here, an axe to grind, it is that he is appalled by the power inequities and the subsequent suffering of the Mexicans, and he is moved by the latter's simple desire to have a better life. But gouts of a bleeding heart make for some viscous prose, and, as seldom happens with Vollmann, his emotions overcome his cool and his positions fray into incoherence. Vollmann's normally reliable narrative voice veers between tour guide-speak and backpacking sociologist, with the occasional lyrical paean to a lady of the night. As a result, Imperial County is a place that few will have the stomach to visit, and Imperial a book few will be willing to read. (powerHouse is publishing a book of 200 photographs Vollmann took during the course of his research: $55 [200p] ISBN 978-1-57687-489-9.) Photos, maps. Coffey is executive managing editor at PW. Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Imperial is the continuum between Mexico and America." On this eight-word foundation, essayist/provocateur William T. Vollmann has erected a 208-chapter, four-pound fortress of verbiage in honor of Imperial County, California's desert-turned-garden-turned-desert where farmers squabble over water rights, migrant workers sneak by ever-vigilant border patrol agents, and prostitutes beckon to customers... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"Magnificent, impressive and utterly unique." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"In an age of trash punditry, Twitter, and gnat-like attention spans, Vollmann's curiosity, forthrightness, lyricism, capaciousness, and empathy are revolutionary." Booklist

Review:

"[A] complex, detailed, but often frenetic look at Southern California's border region." Library Journal

Synopsis:

For generations of migrant workers, Imperial County — the California desert region where the U.S. borders Mexico — has held the promise of paradise and the reality of hell. Award-winning writer Vollmann takes readers deep into the heart of this haunted region.

Synopsis:

An epic study of an emblematic American region by one of our most celebrated writers

It sprawls across a stinking artificial sea, across the deserts, date groves, and labor camps of southeastern California, right across the Mexican border. For generations of migrant workers, from Okies fleeing the Dust Bowl of the 1930s to Mexican laborers today, Imperial County has held the promise of paradise-and the reality of hell. It is a land beautiful and harsh, enticing and deadly, rich in history and heartbreak. Across the border, the desert is the same but there are different secrets. In Imperial, award-winning writer William T. Vollmann takes us deep into the heart of this haunted region, and by extension into the dark soul of American imperialism.

Known for his penetrating meditations on poverty and violence, Vollmann has spent ten years doggedly investigating every facet of this bi-national locus, raiding archives, exploring polluted rivers, guarded factories, and Chinese tunnels, talking with everyone from farmers to border patrolmen in his search for the fading American dream and its Mexican equivalent. The result is a majestic book that addresses current debates on immigration, agribusiness, and corporate exploitation, issues that will define America's identity in the twenty-first century.

Synopsis:

From the author of Europe Central, a journalistic tour de force along the Mexican-American border.

For generations of migrant workers, Imperial Country has held the promise of paradise and the reality of hell. It sprawls across a stirring accidental sea, across the deserts, date groves and labor camps of Southeastern California, right across the border into Mexico. In this eye-opening book, William T. Vollmann takes us deep into the heart of this haunted region, exploring polluted rivers and guarded factories and talking with everyone from Mexican migrant workers to border patrolmen. Teeming with patterns, facts, stories, people and hope, this is an epic study of an emblematic region.

About the Author

A past winner of the PEN Center USA West Award for Fiction, William T. Vollmann is the author of Poor People, seven novels, three collections of stories, and the seven-volume critique of violence, Rising Up and Rising Down. His novel Europe Central won the National Book Award. He lives in Sacramento, California.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780670020614
Publisher:
Penguin Books
Subject:
North American
Author:
Vollmann, William
Author:
Vollmann, William T.
Subject:
Immigrants
Subject:
History
Subject:
Emigration & Immigration
Subject:
Mexicans - California - Imperial County -
Subject:
United States - State & Local - Southwest
Subject:
Latin America - Mexico
Subject:
Regional Studies
Subject:
North America
Subject:
World History-General
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20101026
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Illustrations:
b/w photos and illustrations throughout
Pages:
1200
Dimensions:
9.24x6.42x2.43 in. 3.77 lbs.
Age Level:
17-17

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
History and Social Science » Americana » California
History and Social Science » Native American » General Native American Studies
History and Social Science » Sociology » Regional Studies
History and Social Science » World History » General
History and Social Science » World History » Mexico

Imperial
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 1200 pages Viking Books - English 9780670020614 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Signature Reviewed by Michael Coffey. This is an exasperating, maddening, exhausting and incohorent book by the stunningly prolific Vollmann, who has really outdone himself. Eleven hundred pages plus endless endnotes about a single county in California is as perverse as Vollmann has dared be — which is saying a lot for a guy who has written a massive collection of tales about skinheads (Rainbow Stories), a seven-volume history of the settling of a measly continent (Seven Dreams) and another seven volumes on the history of violence (Rising Up and Rising Down). But a big book about one county? Well, it's not just any county. Imperial is the southeastern-most county in California, bordering with Mexico to the south and Arizona to the east, across the Colorado River. Is it a place deserving of this seemingly disproportionate chronicle? Today, it is a hot spot for illegal immigration, law enforcement action, drug trafficking, prostitution and sweatshop labor in maquilladoras, fetid border factories. It is a place, sure enough, where imperialism has made its mark. Over the past centuries, a lot of bad things have happened in El Centro, as the region is also called, and very little good, as Vollmann's excessive data-dump demonstrates ad nauseam. The Spanish came, murdered, plundered, left; America annexed; land grabs ensued and Colorado River water was illegally diverted westward to render a temporary agricultural paradise and make a few fortunes. As with most of his books, Vollmann has performed mind-boggling feats of research, gobbling up obscure and arcane texts about the Spanish conquests, hydrography, citrus cultivation, immigration, poverty rates, desalinization, drug use, human smuggling and exploitation of the weak by the wealthy in all its guises as it applies to this benighted, once beautiful desert region. If Vollmann has a point of view here, an axe to grind, it is that he is appalled by the power inequities and the subsequent suffering of the Mexicans, and he is moved by the latter's simple desire to have a better life. But gouts of a bleeding heart make for some viscous prose, and, as seldom happens with Vollmann, his emotions overcome his cool and his positions fray into incoherence. Vollmann's normally reliable narrative voice veers between tour guide-speak and backpacking sociologist, with the occasional lyrical paean to a lady of the night. As a result, Imperial County is a place that few will have the stomach to visit, and Imperial a book few will be willing to read. (powerHouse is publishing a book of 200 photographs Vollmann took during the course of his research: $55 [200p] ISBN 978-1-57687-489-9.) Photos, maps. Coffey is executive managing editor at PW. Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , " Few writers can compose sentences like these with a literary straight face:

I saw this gaze once in a Russian paramilitary policeman during the Yugoslav civil war; he soon held a bayonet to my throat to 'test' me. I saw it in some teenagers in Harlem who seared my arm with a cigarette butt."
Tim Jacobs, Rain Taxi (read the entire Rain Taxi review)

"Review" by , "Magnificent, impressive and utterly unique."
"Review" by , "In an age of trash punditry, Twitter, and gnat-like attention spans, Vollmann's curiosity, forthrightness, lyricism, capaciousness, and empathy are revolutionary."
"Review" by , "[A] complex, detailed, but often frenetic look at Southern California's border region."
"Synopsis" by , For generations of migrant workers, Imperial County — the California desert region where the U.S. borders Mexico — has held the promise of paradise and the reality of hell. Award-winning writer Vollmann takes readers deep into the heart of this haunted region.
"Synopsis" by ,

An epic study of an emblematic American region by one of our most celebrated writers

It sprawls across a stinking artificial sea, across the deserts, date groves, and labor camps of southeastern California, right across the Mexican border. For generations of migrant workers, from Okies fleeing the Dust Bowl of the 1930s to Mexican laborers today, Imperial County has held the promise of paradise-and the reality of hell. It is a land beautiful and harsh, enticing and deadly, rich in history and heartbreak. Across the border, the desert is the same but there are different secrets. In Imperial, award-winning writer William T. Vollmann takes us deep into the heart of this haunted region, and by extension into the dark soul of American imperialism.

Known for his penetrating meditations on poverty and violence, Vollmann has spent ten years doggedly investigating every facet of this bi-national locus, raiding archives, exploring polluted rivers, guarded factories, and Chinese tunnels, talking with everyone from farmers to border patrolmen in his search for the fading American dream and its Mexican equivalent. The result is a majestic book that addresses current debates on immigration, agribusiness, and corporate exploitation, issues that will define America's identity in the twenty-first century.

"Synopsis" by ,

From the author of Europe Central, a journalistic tour de force along the Mexican-American border.

For generations of migrant workers, Imperial Country has held the promise of paradise and the reality of hell. It sprawls across a stirring accidental sea, across the deserts, date groves and labor camps of Southeastern California, right across the border into Mexico. In this eye-opening book, William T. Vollmann takes us deep into the heart of this haunted region, exploring polluted rivers and guarded factories and talking with everyone from Mexican migrant workers to border patrolmen. Teeming with patterns, facts, stories, people and hope, this is an epic study of an emblematic region.

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