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Contested Eden: California Before the Gold Rush (California History Sesquicentennial Series) Hardcover – March 31, 1998


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Product Details

  • Series: California History Sesquicentennial Series (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 395 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (March 31, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520212738
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520212732
  • Product Dimensions: 10.3 x 7.2 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,005,222 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

As the first of a projected four-volume collection that will portray the complete history of California, Contested Eden contains a dozen essays ranging from prehistory to 1848. Because it is often common to think of California's history as beginning with the Gold Rush, this text provides a welcome look at the rich background of the most populous state. It is sure to be of interest both to academic and novice historians. Contested Eden begins with an examination of California's natural history, and proceeds in a roughly chronological fashion through the Indian settlements, the conquest by Spain, the incursions of Russian traders, the settlers who came overland from the United States, and the role of California in the war between the U.S. and Mexico. Other essays tackle themes such as cultural conflicts and gender roles. On occasion the writing lapses into academic jargon, but for the most part the pieces are lucid and highly informative. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Ramón A. Gutiérrez is Professor of Ethnic Studies and History at the University of California, San Diego. Richard J. Orsi is Professor of History at California State University, Hayward, and editor of the journal California History.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Jay Marlowe on April 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book looks at pre-gold rush California from various angles. Essays on native California history, along with indigenous actions during early occupation years are major parts of this text. The history of "Californio" women and indigenous sexuality are also included. Californio and Anglo interactions between 1820 and 1850 cover new ground.
At times the work appears a bit "heady" because the advanced vocabulary. However, this is a "must read" for any California scholar.
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By Dave Francis on February 1, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
All those interested in California history should read this book. It covers an era that is very poorly understood by the vast majority of even those who have studied this time period extensively.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Craig Chalquist, PhD, author of TERRAPSYCHOLOGY and DEEP CALIFORNIA on August 26, 2002
Format: Paperback
....for my doctoral research, which involves the history of California. The editors made a conscious choice to show this history in less Eurocentric form; Native Californian voices and perspectives are taken seriously, and there is good ethnographic and naturalistic information to be had.
While I'm not an expert in this area, I do question whether the persistent use of terms like "aristocracy," "hierarchy," "wealth," "headman," and "chief" are appropriate when discussing Native Californians. My impression is that our Western and European prejudices are still at work here.
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