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The King Of California: J.G. Boswell and the Making of A Secret American Empire Paperback – February 15, 2005
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Top Customer Reviews
The book also tells of the natural, social, and political histories of the San Joaquin Valley from the days of indigenous peoples and the first Spanish invaders to the present day.
The epic is a fascinating study of twentieth century American history, society, economics, business, finance, management, politics, public policy, labor relations, mechanization, technology, modernization, and nature.
The more personal stories of family, romance, crime, and punishment read more like a good novel.
Some have found the authors liberally biased, but as a conservative, I found the authors well balanced in their presentations of all sides of the stories.
As others have said, the scope is huge and the research extensive. As someone who was born and raised in Kings County California, I found this heretofor unknown local history to be quite fascinating. Nevertheless, I believe this book will have broad appeal to many readers.
The book also serves as a great exploration of the business of factory farming, detailing the racism and poverty experienced by Black and Mexican workers, as well as the shifty agricultural and hydrological politics of Big Ag in California - as the Boswells and their competitors/allies buy politicians, stack laws and regulations in their favor, and claim flood control as a reason to alter the natural course of rivers and to completely drain the vast Tulare Lake. Best of all, we see how big business really works out West, with the hypocrisy of so-called rugged outdoorsmen (actually pampered CEO's) who incessantly rail against government interference while also taking in millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies that are meant to help the little guy. This book is immensely informative but does often get tied up in unnecessary details, such as descriptions of petty political shenanigans in the construction of a nearby dam.Read more ›
Water rights and agriculture policy are, rather dry subjects in and of themselves, but told as part of the story of this interesting family and company, they come to life.
The only drawback of the book is that the authors can barely conceal their utter contempt for their subject. In numerous places, they abandon all journalistic detachment and express their opinion as fact, usually in a blistering condemnation of their target.
Consider this screed against former Los Angeles Times Publisher Harrison Gray Otis on page 83: "Otis was a fourth-rate publisher and first-rate bully who used the columns of his disgraceful newspaper to spill bile and venom at organized labor and an infinite list of enemies, real and imagined."-- Fact or Opinion?
The authors' inherent bias notwithstanding, they did a good job of research and crafted an engaging narrative.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Interesting, though long book. I had read it before, and had ordered this one for my brother, as he lives in CAPublished 3 months ago by Pat M
This is a great book and very educational. The authors did an exceptional documentary book.Published 6 months 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 8 months ago by Linda B. Bordelon
Fascinating book. A piece of unknown history. Very relevant in the 2015 year of the drought.Published 8 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 8 months ago by Michael K