Top positive review
13 people found this helpful
Starr Hits His Stride...
on March 16, 2004
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!