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Orange Empire: California and the Fruits of Eden Hardcover – February 7, 2005
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More About the Author
My new book, Wild Men: Ishi and Kroeber in the Wilderness of Modern America, looks at the intertwined lives and landscapes of the anthropologist Alfred Kroeber and the Yahi Indian man named Ishi. It considers America's fascination with Ishi as a mirror of its ambivalence about modernity and the "winning of the west." You can read more about it on the blog.
My first book, Orange Empire: California and the Fruits of Eden, is a cultural and environmental history of California focusing on its iconic export--the Sunkist orange. It received the Martin Ridge Award, given to books considered classics or future classics in California history, by the Historical Society of Southern California.
I have also edited the Blackwell Companion to American Environmental History, a collection of 32 essays by leading historians designed as a state of the field report for the young sub-discipline of environmental history. I wrote the chapter on food and co-authored the one on gender for this book, which is due out in May of 2010.
I am a Professor of History at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma Washington, and previously taught at Oberlin College, the University of California at Irvine, and Claremont Graduate University.
Top Customer Reviews
Or actually two books. The first portion describes how the orange industry began and grew, and has fascinating detail on marketing, how the fruit became a national food. This includes the ups and downs of business, publicity and more. The second portion is more about the struggles with labor, featuring cameo appearances by John Steinbeck and Dorothea Lange. The book manages to contain both of the stories rather well. It amounts to how widely should the fruits of Eden be shared. The story begins around 1870 and stops in the 1930s.
In a sense this is a story about the stories told, of deliberate images (the development of Sunkist, for example, is detailed, and is fascinating). The story of oranges was told as an element of heath and goodness and of California sun. The story of the labor disputes in a sense is of two conflicting world views, the orange turned sour.
This California has vanished under the weight of development and population increases, but it is an informative account of an earlier version of the state, one in which storytelling was as important as today.
Overall, the book tells an interesting story through the rise and fall of the industry challenging the constructed utopian idealism of the orange through Sackmans analysis of the exploitative practices of big industry on nature and culture. It can be a bit of a dry read but Sackman uses vivid imagery, that transports you to the landscape and time. The book is extensively researched and cited, providing great resources for further exploring of the subject. This book is a must read for anyone interested in the development of California and the history of big agriculture, labor and the environment.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I haven't completed reading as yet, but the text seems repetitive and unorganized. The author must have been paid by the word as he drones on and on while never really imparting... Read morePublished 6 months ago by viewman