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Coast of Dreams: California on the Edge, 1990-2003

by Kevin Starr

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1646146,179 (3.6)None
"In this book, Kevin Starr probes the possible collapse of the California dream in the years 1990-2003. Coast of Dreams moves through a variety of topics that show the California of the last decade, when the state was sometimes stumbling, sometimes humbled, but, more often, flourishing with its usual panache." "From gang violence in Los Angeles to the spectacular rise - and equally spectacular fall - of Silicon Valley, from the Northridge earthquake to the recall of Governor Gray Davis, Starr ranges over myriad facts, anecdotes, news stories, personal impressions, and analyses to explore a time of unprecedented upheaval in California. Coast of Dreams describes an exceptional diversity of people, cultures, and values; an economy that mirrors the economic state of the nation; a battlefield where industry and the necessities of infrastructure collide with the inherent demands of a unique and stunning natural environment. It explores California politics (including Arnold Schwarzenegger's election in the 2003 recall), the multifaceted business landscape, and controversial icons such as O. J. Simpson."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
sacred heart----Jealous?
  RODNEYP | Nov 28, 2021 |
Commentary about all aspects of life in California from 1990-2003.
  BLTSbraille | Sep 9, 2021 |
NA
  pszolovits | Feb 3, 2021 |
This is a long read. Slowly churning with ponderous prose I didn't like it and was glad when I was done. It was the first book I've read by Starr who has many volumes to his credit. I hope this is one of his worst attempts because I'll be gun-shy about the others. In this book Starr the State Historian of California does a good job of tracing all that went on in the state for 13 years. He threw in everything here but the kitchen sink which is a luxury to be able to do as a writer. I'm glad this book exists but it's no fun to read. There isn’t much sports history or entertainment covered except when he mentions personalities tangentially. He has more than a soft spot for politicians and monied elites. For me personally, this was difficult to take as I read his version of The Golden State. Starr went to USF (Jesuit) and served in the Army and now focuses on Urban Planning. This book seems to be various collected essays and published for his friends in journalism circles. Most of his text (few b/w pictures) cover San Francisco and Los Angeles. There are chapters on San Diego, the Central Valley, Sacramento, Santa Barbara & Palm Springs. His loose thesis is that California is the one and only place where people can move to and be creative while the landscape itself is subject to recurring natural disaster. People come and succeed, and then implode and this is mimicked by the environment which also flourishes and consumes itself. This was idea was first posed by Mike Davis in his ‘City of Quartz.’ Starr implies that this is the value of the state for the rest of the country and the world. Political corruption is to be tolerated (since it can’t be totally eliminated, i.e. L.A’s MTA) and mayhem can only be checked for so long until it too must run its natural course (Rodney King riots). Starr seems to say that this is the metaphysical Zen of California. Starr sees a synchronistic beholding of all religions and cults next door to each other. Although I don’t agree with his assessment of California as a world city (a place of both dreams and nightmares) and his assumption that all building development must be tolerated in the name of progress, he does touch on all the basic chronological events for the years he has chosen. Starr briefly covers Roman Catholicism and I learned more than a few new things about some of the major players in California’s’ history, the overall impression is that in his view certain individuals acquire demigod civic status (Governor Jerry Brown, Mayor Willie Brown) while particular religious traditions are downplayed as being lesser evolved states of California’s peculiar syncretism.
For the fans of history of California or of Los Angeles this book is a not-so-handy reference.
  sacredheart25 | Oct 5, 2015 |
Reactions by readers of "Coast of Dreams": "Coast of Dreams" is a rich and much-discussed mixture of journalism and California history-written by a master of both disciplines, Dr. Kevin Starr. Here are some reactions to Starr's latest book about California. [Compiled by Kenneth Press Nemzer, Tiburon, California]

"Coast of Dreams" is for anyone fascinated by the issues of our time. The book's aim is not to resolve the issues, but to enrich the debate.

"Journalism is history in a hurry," as Kevin Starr says. His book shows that history can be journalism in patient mode.

With a columnist's style, Dr. Starr reviews the past 14 years through vivid snapshots of California life.

Dr. Starr, a celebrated Professor, adds to his narrative an overlay of interpretation. His evident goal is not to be authoritative-the events are too recent for that-but to evoke discussion.

Like a Sierra prospector, the author pulls nuggets of history from his mind's huge reserve of data-nuggets that add texture and gravitas to the book.

Dr. Starr peppers each passage with references to prominent Californians. With those names as handles, each reader can relate the story to his/her own experience.

Starr writes with the insight of one who has known the characters, in his careers as historian, columnist, and State Librarian (now Emeritus).

One of Dr. Starr's techniques is to describe California scenes in pairs, side-by-side. He offers familiar urban contrasts like SF and LA, but also innovative pairings-such as Santa Barbara and Palm Springs, two faces of opulence in repose.

Coast of Dreams combines the depth of history with the liveliness of a daily column. Those who read it will be glad they did.
1 vote mugwump2 | Nov 29, 2008 |
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"In this book, Kevin Starr probes the possible collapse of the California dream in the years 1990-2003. Coast of Dreams moves through a variety of topics that show the California of the last decade, when the state was sometimes stumbling, sometimes humbled, but, more often, flourishing with its usual panache." "From gang violence in Los Angeles to the spectacular rise - and equally spectacular fall - of Silicon Valley, from the Northridge earthquake to the recall of Governor Gray Davis, Starr ranges over myriad facts, anecdotes, news stories, personal impressions, and analyses to explore a time of unprecedented upheaval in California. Coast of Dreams describes an exceptional diversity of people, cultures, and values; an economy that mirrors the economic state of the nation; a battlefield where industry and the necessities of infrastructure collide with the inherent demands of a unique and stunning natural environment. It explores California politics (including Arnold Schwarzenegger's election in the 2003 recall), the multifaceted business landscape, and controversial icons such as O. J. Simpson."--BOOK JACKET.

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