Synopses & Reviews
Native Californian Stephen Schwartz dispels the myth that American national culture developed first in the East and spread westward across the frontier. Schwartz reveals that there was a parallel American founding in 16th-century California -- a truly multicultural society that produced a unique cultural mix of Spanish, Asian, European, and Native American influences. Preserved by geographic isolation and subsidized by California's fantastic natural wealth, the state's unique, phantasmagorical "mentality" has become a powerful force in the making of the American mind.
Artfully weaving together the strands of California's social, political, and cultural history, Schwartz chronicles the state's turbulent life from its discovery by the Spanish through the Civil War, the labor movement, the Great Depression, and the birth of modern cultural radicalism in the Beatnik revolution and the Berkeley Free Speech movement. His ambitious epic shows how California helped determine what it means to think, and more importantly, to dream, like an American.