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VINE VOICEon 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!
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on September 4, 1997
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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on August 2, 2015
Exhaustively researched and thoroughly detailed, this is an incredibly insightful, generally engaging look at a dynamic decade (the 1920s) in the making of a world-class city. The level of specificity on a range of topics is impressive given the scope of the subjectmatter. A significant achievement, ranking with Carey McWilliams' "Southern California, An Island on the Land."
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on February 7, 2013
Very good for information on the history of Southern California, Los Angeles in particular. It covers general history, ethnic history, etc. Well-written and easy to read.
Would recommend it to anyone interested in history.
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on June 1, 2008
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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on January 22, 2014
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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on January 6, 2009
Very well written. A must for those interested in early California history. Very accurate in fact.
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on April 14, 2015
The ONE book to read if you have interest in -- much less love -- Los Angeles and Southern California.
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on June 30, 2014
Very Interesting
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