Synopses & Reviews
The sixth volume in one of the great ongoing works of American cultural history--Kevin Starr's monumental Americans and the California Dream--Embattled Dreams is a peerless work of cultural history following California in the years surrounding World War II.
During the 1940s California ascended to a new, more powerful role in the nation. Starr describes the vast expansion of the war industry and California's role as the "arsenal of democracy" (especially the significant part women played in the aviation industry). He examines the politics of the state: Earl Warren as the dominant political figure, the anti-Communist movement and "red baiting," and the early career of Richard Nixon. He also looks at culture, ranging from Hollywood to the counterculture, to film noir and detective stories. And he illuminates the harassment of Japanese immigrants and the shameful treatment of other minorities, especially Hispanics and blacks.
In Embattled Dreams, Starr again provides a spellbinding account of the Golden State, narrating California's transformation from a regional power to a dominant economic, social, and cultural force.
"With a novelist's eye for the telling detail, and a historian's grasp of the sweep of grand events.... [Starr's] got it all down.... I read the book with absorbed admiration."--Herman Wouk, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Caine Mutiny and The Winds of War
"The scope of Starr's scholarship is breathtaking."--Atlantic Monthly
"A magnificent accomplishment."--Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Brilliant and epic social and cultural history."--Business Week
"Ebullient, nuanced, interdisciplinary history of the grandest kind."--San Francisco Chronicle
"An exciting picture of how California changed during World War II, yet remained irrepressibly the same. Kevin Starr has captured the whole cockeyed chiaroscuro, with a novelist's eye for the telling detail, and a historian's grasp of the sweep of grand events. From the Hollywood Canteen to the Black Dahlia mystery, from the plight of the Okies and the Japanese to the gargantuan military buildup and the Golden State's bone-deep frivolity, he's got it all down. I was there, and I know. I read the book with absorbed admiration." Herman Wouk, Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Caine Mutiny and The Winds of War
"Kevin Starr is an absolutely wonderful writer, passionate, learned, born, as they said of Samuel Johnson, to wrestle with whole libraries. In Embattled Dreams, he has surpassed himself. This is his best book yet." Max Byrd, author and Professor of English, UC Davis
"The 1940s, that decade of wars both hot and cold, changed California more than any other era in history. Kevin Starr leaves nothing out. Here are the shifting politics and populations, the burgeoning shipyards and aircraft factories, the movies, the novels the whole culture of this exciting society in profound transition. How does he focus so much detail into such a lively, driving narrative?" Stephen Fender, Research Professor of American Studies, University of Sussex
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. Now, in Embattled Dreams
, the sixth volume in this monumental work, Starr looks at 1940s California, the war years and their aftermath.
California in the years surrounding World War II was a time of sweeping change, drama and intrigue, heroism and tragedy, a decade that saw the emergence of a new, more powerful role for California in the nation. Starr captures this exciting era with his unique vision and masterful prose. He describes the vast expansion of the war industry and California's role as "arsenal of democracy" (especially the significant part women played in the aviation industry). He examines the politics of the state: Earl Warren as the dominant political figure, the anti-communist movement and "red baiting," and the early career of Richard Nixon. He also looks at culture, ranging from Hollywood, to the counterculture with Henry Miller at Big Sur, to film noir and the fiction of Raymond Chandler. And he illuminates the harassment of Japanese immigrants and the shameful treatment of other minorities, especially Hispanics and blacks.
Philadelphia Inquirer hailed Starr as "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." In Embattled Dreams, Starr provides an unforgettable portrait of California, a spell-binding account of the state as it transformed itself from a regional power to the dominant economic, social, and cultural force in the nation.
About the Author
Kevin Starr is the State Librarian of California. He also holds the rank of University Professor in the Department of History at the University of Southern California.