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Not So Golden After All: The Rise and Fall of California [Kindle Edition]

Larry N. Gerston
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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  • Print ISBN-10: 1439880123
  • Print ISBN-13: 978-1439880128
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Kindle Edition, March 20, 2012
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Book Description

Quality public education, modern highway systems, and reasonably priced housing—these are just some of the qualities that once made California one of the most desirable places to live. Just a few decades later, the state finds itself with an education system that is failing its citizens, one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation, and a quickly evaporating dream of home ownership.

Illustrating each step of the breakdown that led to its current state of dysfunction, Not So Golden After All: The Rise and Fall of California provides insight into a system gone amuck. It addresses complicated topics in an engaging manner to help the public and leaders alike understand how to make policies that balance expectations with outcomes. Key political themes covered include disconnected institutions, perpetually unbalanced budgets, immigration, voter ignorance, interest group influence, and dysfunctional institutions. Investigating the gridlock that has become all too common within the state’s legislature, the book:

  • Demonstrates the impact of the state’s inability to generate sufficient revenue, particularly for public education and an under-trained workforce

  • Highlights the problems created by poor land use planning —from suburban sprawl and government waste to inefficient use of agricultural land

  • Examines how interest groups have been able to wrest control of the processes that were created to keep them in line

  • Identifies the duplication of efforts and other inefficiencies at the state and local levels

Author Larry Gerston leaves no stone unturned in his discussion of California's economy, position on the Pacific Rim, cultural diversity, land and water issues, and its relationship with the federal government. He examines the state’s infrastructure, natural resources, immigration issues, education, finance, healthcare, civil rights, planning and development, security, laws, political parties, and power structures to provide civic leaders and policy makers with the understanding required to restore the sheen to this once glistening paradise.

The Contra Costa Times discussed Larry Gerston's recent Commonwealth Club lecture in a May 17, 2012 article.

Read an interview with Larry Gerston in The Mercury News.

Editorial Reviews


Self-knowledge is a requirement for self-correction. In its candor, comprehensiveness, and call for reform, Not So Golden After All offers step number one in the political twelve-step program upon which California must embark if it wishes to redeem its heritage.
—Kevin Starr, Professor of History, University of Southern California & California State Librarian Emeritus


Self-knowledge is a requirement for self-correction. In its candor, comprehensiveness, and call for reform, Not So Golden After All offers step number one in the political twelve-step program upon which California must embark if it wishes to redeem its heritage.
—Kevin Starr, Professor of History at the University of Southern California & California State Librarian Emeritus

Product Details

  • File Size: 2923 KB
  • Print Length: 342 pages
  • Publisher: CRC Press (March 20, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,412,113 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every Californian Should Read This May 11, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is a must-read for anyone living and voting in California or considering moving here. While the facts are appalling, they are delivered in a clear manner and without embellishment or hyperbole; the facts speak for themselves and no emotionalism is needed to generate outrage. While I don't agree with all of the solutions and some of them are a bit vague (someone, somehow), the problems are outlined, specified and fully described in startling clarity and completeness, with no doubt left as to what the problem is and why it exists. Every Californian from the most rabid libertarian to the most socialistic progressive will agree on one thing: California State government is dysfunctional and redundant. I think they might even agree on many of the solutions. No spoilers here but anyone truly interested in how California works (or, more precisely, doesn't work) and for whom, this book is for you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Larry Gerston, a poly sci professor [...] at San Jose State U. has an incredible command of what is up with California. His use of facts and figures can keep everyone engaged from the casual reader in Northridge to an engineer in Silicon Valley. He ties together all these facts and vignettes about the dysfunctionality in California. There is so much history here and in California our issues are due to many themes that Larry addresses. Toward the end of the book, you begin to ask, "What has to happen to improve this quagmire?" Larry Gerston in the last chapter brings it all together. As Larry would say in his Facebook posts: ([...]) "We got here perhaps by random walk, but it will take a world of focused action to get us out of it".

Definitely a key read for those who want to understand the ecosystem of California and how we got the good, the bad, and the ugly. Arnold, a must read for you.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A cautionary tale July 5, 2012
The first mistake might be to read the title and simply assume that what happens in California has no relevance to me in [choose any state]. California has always been the state considered the trendsetter in all things American. Good trends, and more recently, bad trends.
Thus, Dr. Gerston's exhaustive examination of everything California is, in reality, a cautionary tale for all of us that have wrongfully concluded that, like earthquakes, wildfires and landslides, these maladies simply do not happen in places like Pennsylvania. The fact is most states are already facing many, if not most, of the issues that Dr. Gerston addresses. It is just that like all trends since the start of the twentieth century, it happens in California first and probably, more intensely.
If as a result of your Californication myopia you only see sunshine and bikinis played to a Beach Boys soundtrack, this book may not be happy enough for you. If conversely, you want a brilliant and thoughtful analysis of what ails not only California, but by extrapolation all of our states, and what to do about it, read this book, but because of the dire state of things, read it now.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The REAL Story of California - Past, Present, and Future September 10, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Larry Gerston tells the REAL story of California - past, present, and future. A scholarly look at California's governmental, economic, and social successes and failures, Gerston cuts to the chase and tells it like it is. But, more importantly Gerston boldly exposes the problems that plague our state and offers real and achievable fixes for our broken system. Informative and engaging, this book will infuriate and inspire your heart and mind! Every Californian should, study...every Californian should study this book, heed Gerston's warnings, and get involved in the effort to make California golden again.
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