- Series: Americans and the California Dream
- Paperback: 512 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; Reprint edition (December 4, 1986)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195042336
- ISBN-13: 978-0195042337
- Product Dimensions: 9 x 1.3 x 6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 13 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #425,183 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Americans and the California Dream, 1850-1915 Reprint Edition
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"Highly readable...The book is full of surprises, it is constantly challenging...A fine performance."--Pacific Historical Review
"[Starr] is bringing much to Western social and literary history."--American Historical Review
"One devil of a fine book, a book only a native Californian could write...about the Inner Life of California, the psychic landscape that emerges from the works and ways of her writers, both native and self-adopted. The result is a mature, well-proportioned and marvelously diverse (and diverting) study."--The New York Times Book Review
"A very important book."--Joseph H. Krause, California State University, Long Beach
"Indispensable...Starr's book does for California what Henry Nash Smith's 'Virgin Land' did for the opening of the West: it demonstrates how idea, myth, misconception and hope shaped and often distorted a developing society."--Los Angeles Times
"A vivid portrayal of the rich and varied intellectual forces which helped shape one of our most distinctive regional cultures."--St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"An exceptional work, both in thought and magnitude...Both scholars and laymen will find this volume a worthwhile addition to their libraries."--History: Reviews of New Books
"A highly original inquiry into the interplay of vision and event.'"--Virginia Quarterly Review
"A captivating narrative that documents the importance of myth and imagination in attracting Americans to California before World War I."--R.H. Limbaugh, University of the Pacific
From the Back Cover
Written by a native San Franciscan who combines a moving and expressive style with the objective eye of the scholar, Professor Starr's chronicle will appeal to all those who relish American history set forth in vivid detail and enriched with insight.
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Criticism aside, Dr. Starr's skill as a narrative historian is remarkable, and he should be considered in the same company as Henry Adams and Daniel Boorstin.
I was not disappointed. I believe this book is widely acknowledged as a classic in the field of California history, and I certainly wouldn't disagree with that judgment.
Prof. Starr attempts to illuminate the psychology of early California by providing mini-biographies of important California residents. These biographies are linked together by several recurrent themes. It is these themes that provide the thesis (theses?) of the book.
The themes are: The dark side of the optomism which characterizes the "California" personality; the harsh conflict in early times which affected the development of a Californian "civilisation" and the melding of cultures (Mexican and Californian, Northern and Southern) that produced Californian culture.
Starr focuses more on cultural rather then economic or political figures. Starr also shows a fondness for somewhat Freudian explanations for behavior (repressive parents, absent parents, neglectful parents). Given the age of the book (1975) it's hard to quibble with the inclusion of a perspective tilted towards psychological explanation.
On the whole it was a worthwhile read, and not too dense either. Recommended for those interested in the history of California and it's culture.