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This meticulous narrative of the rise of the cotton magnate James G. Boswell begins in the nineteen-twenties, when his family was driven from Georgia by boll-weevil infestations and brought its plantation ways to California's San Joaquin Valley. Not to be defeated by nature again, the Boswells leveed and dammed Tulare Lake, the largest body of fresh water west of the Mississippi, to the point of extinction. In its six-hundred-square-mile basin they grew cotton, while in Los Angeles office towers they built one of the country's largest agricultural operations, swallowing small farms and multimillion-dollar subsidies with equal vigor. Arax and Wartzman strive for evenhandedness but acknowledge the costs of Big Ag—such as evaporation ponds with selenium levels so high that ducks are born with corkscrewed beaks and no eyes, and the recurrent "hundred-year floods," stubborn attempts by the old lake to reassert itself.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker
You may never have heard of him, but J. G. Boswell controls the biggest farming empire in America. In the early part of the twentieth century, his family moved from Georgia to California, where they drained one of the country's biggest lakes, Tulare Lake, and planted cotton. Soon their cotton empire became the richest and most technologically sophisticated on the planet. This book is many stories, all rolled into one epic. It's the story of the Boswells from the 1800s to the present day; of cotton farming in America; of California itself; and of the evolution of race relations as the country dragged itself out of the era of slavery and, not at all smoothly, into the modern era. Written in a lively style that matches the bigger-than-life qualities of its subject, the book is far more exciting than you might think the story of a cotton farmer would be. With proper marketing, it could smash through genre barriers and become the Seabiscuit of agricultural biography! David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
This is a great book and very educational. The authors did an exceptional documentary book.Published 1 month ago by Brenda Freeman
Great story about a distant relative. I understand my agricultural roots better. Have visited his empire and appreciate what he did.Published 3 months ago by Linda B. Bordelon
Fascinating book. A piece of unknown history. Very relevant in the 2015 year of the drought.Published 4 months ago by Txbiker
One of the best California history books I have read. The story of J. G. Boswell is interesting and the second story regarding the Salyer family is equally interesting. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Michael K
The author gives a very good and lucid story of the CA Central Valley and the history of water distribution. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Laurence Taylor