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California: A History by Kevin Starr
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California: A History (2005)

by Kevin Starr

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California by Kevin Starr is the primer on California history. It covers every facet of the state in a clear and readable history. I love these kinds of histories because he doesn't cover just the political and geographic history but the social history as well. He covers art and literature that reflected the history of the state, something I really enjoy in a history. It doesn't gloss over anything either from race issues to the dillusionment of California. This is also a great book to focus in on aspects of California history that may be of interest. It covers all of California as well even to parts of the state that are typically glossed over. An excellent history. ( )
  shadowofthewind | Aug 29, 2012 |
Chapters are headed by photographic illustrations, an instance that underscores the theme of each facet of the state's history. With chapter titles like "Queen Califa's Island", "Great Expectations", "Ecumenopolis" and "Arnold" (a select few), the work offers detail at the human level for the over 480 years of the region's existence.
  LAMMLibrary | Jul 11, 2012 |
A wonderful read. The book flows well and is not too academic like so many other histories. Kevin Starr captures and defines key periods in California history, while identifying and narrating the lifes and events of it's most important people. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. For me it was a page turner. ( )
1 vote mrminjares | Mar 29, 2010 |
Excellent one volume history of California by the expert on California history. ( )
1 vote FionaCat | Apr 16, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 081297753X, Paperback)

California has always been our Shangri-la–the promised land of countless pilgrims in search of the American Dream. Now the Golden State’s premier historian, Kevin Starr, distills the entire sweep of California’s history into one splendid volume. From the age of exploration to the age of Arnold, this is the story of a place at once quintessentially American and utterly unique.

Arguing that America’s most populous state has always been blessed with both spectacular natural beauty and astonishing human diversity, Starr unfolds a rapid-fire epic of discovery, innovation, catastrophe, and triumph.

For generations, California’s native peoples basked in the abundance of a climate and topography eminently suited to human habitation. By the time the Spanish arrived in the early sixteenth century, there were scores of autonomous tribes were thriving in the region. Though conquest was rapid, nearly two centuries passed before Spain exerted control over upper California through the chain of missions that stand to this day.

The discovery of gold in January 1848 changed everything. With population increasing exponentially as get-rich-quick dreamers converged from all over the world, California reinvented itself overnight. Starr deftly traces the successive waves of innovation and calamity that have broken over the state since then–the incredible wealth of the Big Four railroad tycoons and the devastating San Francisco earthquake of 1906; the emergence of Hollywood as the world’s entertainment capital and of Silicon Valley as the center of high-tech research and development; the heroic irrigation and transportation projects that have altered the face of the region; the role of labor, both organized and migrant, in key industries from agriculture to aerospace.

Kevin Starr has devoted his career to the history of his beloved state, but he has never lost his sense of wonder over California’s sheer abundance and peerless variety. This one-volume distillation of a lifetime’s work gathers together everything that is most important, most fascinating, and most revealing about our greatest state.


From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:19 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"Arguing that America's most populous state has always been blessed with both spectacular natural beauty and astonishing human diversity, Starr unfolds a rapid-fire epic of discovery, innovation, catastrophe, and triumph. For generations, California's native peoples basked in the abundance of a climate and topography eminently suited to human habitation. By the time the Spanish arrived in the early sixteenth century, scores of autonomous tribes were thriving in the region. Though conquest was rapid, nearly two centuries passed before Spain exerted control over upper California through the chain of missions that stand to this day." "The discovery of gold in January 1848 changed everything. With its population increasing exponentially as get-rich-quick dreamers converged from all over the world, California reinvented itself overnight. Starr deftly traces the successive waves of innovation and calamity that have broken over the state since then - the incredible wealth of the Big Four railroad tycoons; the devastating San Francisco earthquake of 1906; the emergence of Hollywood as the world's entertainment capital and of Silicon Valley as the center of high-tech research and development; the heroic irrigation and transportation projects that have altered the face of the region; the role of labor, both organized and migrant, in key industries from agriculture to aerospace." "Kevin Starr has devoted his career to the history of his beloved state. This one-volume distillation of a lifetime's work gathers together everything that is most important, most fascinating, and most revealing about our greatest state."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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