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Other titles in the Americans and the California Dream series:
Golden Dreams: California in an Age of Abundance, 1950-1963 (Americans and the California Dream)by Kevin Starr
"It was a magnificent run. From the end of the Second World War to the mid-1960s, California consolidated its position as an economic and technological colossus and emerged as the country's dominant political, social, and cultural trendsetter....It was a sweet, vivacious time: California's children, swarming on all those new playgrounds, seemed healthier, happier, taller, and — thanks to that brilliantly clean sunshine — were blonder and more tan than kids in the rest of the country. For better and mostly for worse, it's a time irretrievably lost." Benjamin Schwarz, The Atlantic (read the entire Atlantic review)
Synopses & Reviews
A narrative tour de force that combines wide-ranging scholarship with captivating prose, Kevin Starr's acclaimed multi-volume Americans and the California Dream is an unparalleled work of cultural history. In this volume, Starr covers the crucial postwar period — 1950 to 1963 — when the California we know today first burst into prominence.
Starr brilliantly illuminates the dominant economic, social, and cultural forces in California in these pivotal years. In a powerful blend of telling events, colorful personalities, and insightful analyses, Starr examines such issues as the overnight creation of the postwar California suburb, the rise of Los Angeles as Super City, the reluctant emergence of San Diego as one of the largest cities in the nation, and the decline of political centrism. He explores the Silent Generation and the emergent Boomer youth cult, the Beats and the Hollywood "Rat Pack," the pervasive influence of Zen Buddhism and other Asian traditions in art and design, the rise of the University of California and the emergence of California itself as a utopia of higher education, the cooling of West Coast jazz, freeway and water projects of heroic magnitude, outdoor life and the beginnings of the environmental movement. More broadly, he shows how California not only became the most populous state in the Union, but in fact evolved into a mega-state en route to becoming the global commonwealth it is today.
Golden Dreams continues an epic series that has been widely recognized for its signal contribution to the history of American culture in California. It is a book that transcends its stated subject to offer a wealth of insight into the growth of the Sun Belt and the West and indeed the dramatic transformation of America itself in these pivotal years following the Second World War.
"This volume concludes Starr's unprecedented seven-volume history of a single American state. While out of chronological order (Starr covered the period 1990 — 2003 in Coast of Dreams) and often ranging far beyond the book's stated dates, this final volume is of the same high quality as the previous ones: spirited in style, comprehensive and long. Starr covers a broad range of subjects: demography, water, freeways, politics, culture, the state's major cities, race relations. As in all other volumes, he hangs his story on sketches of many of California's often larger-than-life individuals, among them Buffy Chandler, Cardinal McIntyre, Pat Brown, Dave Brubeck, Clark Kerr, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Herb Caen. But too often biography substitutes for analysis. Letting others speak for him, Starr rarely lets an authorial voice shine through or a critical stance intrude. The result is wonderfully readable descriptive history, but not a history that leaves readers with a fresh take on the Golden State as a whole. That's a pity, for no one knows more about California than Starr. We could have used at least his concluding thoughts on the state's past and future. 30 b&w photos. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Starr bids fair to become the foremost chronicler of that often fabulous region, imposing upon the dramatic elements of California history a novelist's imagination and a cosmopolitan and sophisticated intelligence." Philadelphia Inquirer
"An impressive book...The grasp is sure, the learning awesome. The prose...has a drive that carries cities and industries and people and decades headlong toward their manifest destiny." The New York Times
"A delightful and extremely thorough chronicle of a state that is almost a mythical kingdom. Nobody who is interested in any of the intellectual currents of American history, or of the roots of twentieth (perhaps even twenty-first) century thought, can fail to enjoy this." St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"For ambition, narrative drive and breadth of research across the disciplines from culture through politics and demography to agronomy and water management, no recent project of American historical writing comes close to Kevin Starr's mammoth, multi-volume Americans and the California Dream.... It is a magnificent accomplishment." David Rieff, Los Angeles Times Book Review
"This is ebullient, nuanced, interdisciplinary history of the grandest kind, drawing parallels and distinctions where perhaps no one ever thought to see them before. Starr's a born storyteller as well, mining a rich seam of anecdotal coal to animate the complex, enigmatic figures of California history.... Starr is an undervalued and irreplaceable public treasure." David Kipen, San Francisco Chronicle
In the summer of 1883 Belgian travel writer Jules Leclercq spent ten days on horseback in Yellowstone, the worldand#8217;s first national park, exploring myriad natural wonders: astonishing geysers, majestic waterfalls, the vast lake, and the breathtaking canyon. He also recorded the considerable human activity, including the rampant vandalism. Leclercqand#8217;s account of his travels is itself a small marvel blending natural history, firsthand impressions, scientific lore, and anecdote. Along with his observations on the parkand#8217;s long-rumored fountains of boiling water and mountains of glass, Leclercq describes camping near geysers, washing clothes in a bubbling hot spring, and meeting such diverse characters as local guides and tourists from the United States and Europe. Notables including former president Ulysses S. Grant and then-president Chester A. Arthur were also in the park that summer to inaugurate the newly completed leg of the Northern Pacific Railroad.
A sensation in Europe, the book was never published in English. This deft translation at long last makes available to English-speaking readers a masterpiece of western American travel writing that is a fascinating historical document in its own right.
When the more than 18 million visitors poured into the Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) in San Francisco in 1915, they encountered a vision of the world born out of San Franciscoand#8217;s particular local political and social climate. By seeking to please various constituent groups ranging from the government of Japan to local labor unions and neighborhood associations, fair organizers generated heated debate and conflict about who and what represented San Francisco, California, and the United States at the worldand#8217;s fair. The PPIE encapsulated the social and political tensions and conflicts of preand#8211;World War I California and presaged the emergence of San Francisco as a cosmopolitan cultural and economic center of the Pacific Rim.
Empress San Francisco offers a fresh examination of this, one of the largest and most influential worldand#8217;s fairs, by considering the local social and political climate of Progressive Era San Francisco. Focusing on the influence exerted by women, Asians and Asian Americans, and working-class labor unions, among others, Abigail M. Markwyn offers a unique analysis both of this worldand#8217;s fair and the social construction of preand#8211;World War I America and the West.
About the Author
Kevin Starr is University Professor and Professor of History, University of Southern California, and State Librarian of California Emeritus. His Americans and the California Dream series has earned him the National Medal for the Humanities, the Centennial Medal of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences of Harvard University, the Gold Medal of the Commonwealth Club of California, a Guggenheim fellowship, and election to the Society of American Historians.
Table of Contents
Part One: Suburban Assumptions
1. San Fernando: Homes and Happiness in Residential Subdivisions
2. Designs for the Good Life: Modernism, Tiki, Ranch
Part Two: Urban Perspectives
3. Urban Expectations: San Diego Leverages Itself into Big City Status
4. Baghdad by the Bay: Herb Caen's San Francisco
5. The Cardinal, the Chief, Buff, and Walter O'Malley: Upgrading the City of Angels
6. Downsides and Dividends: Los Angeles as Super City
Part Three: Politics and Public Works
7. Common Ground and the Party of California: The Reluctant Retirement of Goodwin J. Knight
8. Cold War Campus: The University of California and Other Secret Places
9. Freeways to the Future: An Epic Construction on Behalf of the Automobile
10. Mare Nostrum: Achieving the California Water Project
Part Four: Art and Life
11. Provincials, Baghdader, and Beats: Literary San Francisco in the 1950s
12. Big Sur: The Search for Alternative Value
13. The Silent Generation: Coming of Age on the Coast of Dreams
14. Brubeck! Jazz Goes to College
Part Five: Growth and the Environment
15. Ahwahnee and the John Muir Trail: Variations on an Outdoor Theme
16. Largest State in the Nation: A Rebellion against Growth and the Destruction of the Environment
Part Six: Changing Times
17. Dissenting Opinions: California Enters the Nineteen Sixties
18. Cool, Not Cool: Epilogues and Transitions
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