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Material Dreams: Southern California through the 1920s (Americans and the California Dream)

9 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195072600
ISBN-10: 019507260X
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Material Dreams: Southern California through the 1920s (Americans and the California Dream) + Inventing the Dream: California through the Progressive Era (Americans and the California Dream) + Americans and the California Dream, 1850-1915
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Starr's excellent history of California here reaches a third volume (the earlier volumes are Americans and the California Dream: 1850-1915, LJ 7/73, and Inventing the Dream, LJ 5/1/85). Southern California--aka Los Angeles--has seized the floor. It's boosters are busy raiding land from the basin and water from the north, while Sister Aimee Semple McPherson soothes the crowds of new Californians. Colleges and culture begin to provide a sense of place and pride. Starr continues to employ social history and biography as a means of painting the greater picture. This method aptly suits the booming megalopolis, which is in large part the creation of idealists, visionaries, evangelicals, and eccentrics. Many of these stories have been told before, but they bear retelling by a writer with Starr's narrative gifts. Highly recommended.
-Timothy L. Zindel, Hastings Coll. of the Law, San Francisco
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

'Material Dreams is a splendid achievement: impressively researched, expertly argued and nicely varied ... (Starr) has taken a sprawling, recalcitrant subject, at once encrusted with cliche and dogged by obscurity, and made it vivid and comprehensible.' Boston Sunday Globe 'Kevin Starr has written an engaging, eccentric history of Southern California in the '20s ... It is richly researched, informative, fun to read and the writing is bright (with substance, pace and vigor).' Los Angeles Times
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Product Details

  • Series: Americans and the California Dream
  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (October 17, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019507260X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195072600
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.4 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #903,718 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By S. Pactor VINE VOICE on March 16, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Starr hits his stride in this, his third in his epic series on the history of California. At last, Starr is free to focus on the subject that any reader can tell is "near and dear" to his heart: The emergence of Los Angeles as a full blown titan of a city. Although the subtitle to this book is "Southern California Through the 1920's", once again, it would be be more appropriate to hone in on the main subject and retitle the book "Los Angeles and Two Chapters on Santa Barbara Through the 1920's".
Again, not that I'm complaining. Perhaps because of Starr's intent focus on a single city, his talent really shines in this volume. This is one of the most enjoyable reads I've had in the last year.
The first section of the book deals with Southern California and Water. His sub chapter on the Imperial Valley is a real barn burner. I've never read such a complete account of the events in Imperial Valley in the early 20th century, and I would recommend the book for that reason alone.
The second and third sections tackle the emergence of Los Angeles society. Here, Starr goes on the offensive, tackling the idea that L.A. is a cultural wasteland. You can almost hear the voice of a professor lecturing undergraduates. Starr starts at economic institutions, discusses the people of Los Angeles and ends with a discussion of cultural institutions. The end of the third section deals with the "Santa Barbara" alternative.
For me, these two chapters were the least enjoyable in the book.
Fortunately, Starr rebounds with his treatment of literary and "biblio" society in LA. These chapters make for fascinating reading, and were a high point of the entire series. I certainly did not know that LA was a center of the rare book trade!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By msri@msn.com on September 4, 1997
Format: Hardcover
I was a student of Dr. Starr's in the USC Master of Real Estate Development program in the early 1990's. Dr. Starr's analysis of California during the period is both thorough and enlightening. Dr. Starr gives particular emphasis to the Los Angeles element of California growth, with particular analysis of the Department of Water and Power, the Los Angeles Police Department, and, perhaps not coincidentally, the University of Southern California and its training of careerist professionals rather than academics. I highly recommend this work, and by linkage, any of Dr. Starr's works
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Colbruno on June 1, 2008
Format: Paperback
Any history book by Kevin Starr is worth reading. I'm working my way through all of them. He is the greatest California historian ever!
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By Lorena F. Miller on June 30, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very Interesting
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I purchased this book to provide documentation for parts of a novel I am writing set in Los Angeles circa 1925. Found it to be moderately helpful, but lacking depth in many areas.
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