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Coast of Dreams Paperback – February 14, 2006
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“Kevin Starr is nothing short of the John Muir of our times. . . . [He] is utterly fascinated by California and how it has evolved.” –Los Angeles Times
“Starr brings his magnificent, multivolume series Americans and the California Dream, the product of a quarter-century of work up to the present. An unfailingly interesting, highly readable contribution to Starr's grand series.” –Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Extraordinary. . . . Sweeping, deeply personal and insightful”–Tucson Gazette
From the Inside Flap
From gang violence in Los Angeles to the spectacular rise-and equally spectacular fall-of Silicon Valley, from the Northridge earthquake to the recall of Governor Gray Davis, Starr ranges over myriad facts, anecdotes, news stories, personal impressions, and analyses to explore a time of unprecedented upheaval in California. "Coast of Dreams describes an exceptional diversity of people, cultures, and values; an economy that mirrors the economic state of the nation; a battlefield where industry and the necessities of infrastructure collide with the inherent demands of a unique and stunning natural environment. It explores California politics (including Arnold Schwarzenegger's election in the 2003 recall), the multifaceted business landscape, and controversial icons such as O. J. Simpson.
"Historians of the future," Starr writes, "will be able to see with more certainty whether or not the period 1990-2003 was not only the end of one California but the beginning of another"; in the meantime, he gives a picture of the place and time in a book at once sweeping and riveting in its details, deeply informed, engagingly personal, and altogether fascinating.
"From the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Of course at over 600 pages, it is certainly a lot to digest. And Starr can certainly discuss virtually any subject about California with a lot of detail, and he does here. And it his enthusiasm and love for the state, warts and all, that really drives this book.
Starr is completely unafraid to expose the bad side of California. Some of the chapters on crime and gang warfare that were particularly acute in the early 90's were harrowing and difficult to read. Starr has a good grasp of the unique brand of California politics, that sometimes yields rather unusual and unique results, such as the power deregulation crisis and Schwarzeneggar becoming Governor.
On the other hand, Starr clearly enjoys writing about the unqiue elements that draws so many people to the state. Whether writing about the trendy areas of San Francisco or Los Angeles, or for the seemingly mundane opportunities that draw so many illegal immigrants, Starr shows the state has historically been for dreamers large and small. Whether California can continue to sustain all these dreams is an underlying theme of the book.
As someone who came to California from the Midwest, I found the considerable time invested reading Coast of Dreams was well worth the new found connection I have to the state of California.
A long book, but you don't have to read it at one sitting. It's well suited to you leisurely reading chapter by chapter, at your own pace. Myriad aspects of California are covered. Though, as someone else remarked, Starr says little about California north of San Francisco. The book is about events in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and a little bit on San Diego and the Central Valley. The narrative style lends itself well to drawing in the reader in an engaging fashion. Which bodes well in future years, when others who then read it will have been born long after all these events. The contemporaneous account given by Starr should endure as a lasting contribution to the historical record.
For Los Angeles, the early 90s get considerable play. Especially with the 1992 race riot and the 94 Northridge quake. All overlaid on a statewide recession, exacerbated by overbuilding and aerospace shrinking after the end of the Cold War.
Naturally, Starr delves into the dot com saga. Centred on Silicon Valley, "dreaming dreams of endless wealth". Of course, you can find entire books devoted to this era. But the chapter in this book suffices well to convey the strange feeling in the air, and all that money! An envious reader could speculate as to whether it might all happen again.
If you do happen to like this book, consider checking out his earlier texts. He has written a slew of these on various aspects of California history. Most with the same fluid grace of the present book. An enjoyable way to learn more about California.
Hollywood takes a back seat role in this contemporary history, which surprised me, yet you always see it lurking beneath the surface, especially in his numerous references to films that most readers would be aware of. What he does focus on is how small business is the driving force in California, illustrating how Silicon and Napa Valleys rose from cottage industries into leading world conglomerates. He also talks about how California was able to retool itself following the closure of military bases and loss of defense contracts in the 90's.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Sort of a culmination of his books from other decades -- this one on the disappearing promise of California, brought on by the nearly endless list of problems we experienced in the... Read morePublished 12 days ago by Brian Glusovich
Great book. Well researched and written. Unfortunately, the binding fell apart and I ended up chunking out many pages to store until I finished and then glues the whole book back... Read morePublished on July 12, 2013 by william kelly
Kevin Starr unveils the "real" California like few writers do. He does not paint the glossly image or do the California bashing of many of his contemporary and... Read morePublished on May 1, 2013 by Alan Gregg
The Coast of Dreams series is extremely well written and accurate. You simply cannot do better if you are interested in the history of California!Published on May 31, 2012 by Paul Strona
A reader of Mr. Starr's book pointed out a glaring error concerning the history of Palm Springs where the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla has more than 31,500 acres spreading across... Read morePublished on February 24, 2010 by Nancy T. Conrad
Dense reading that requires some patience but worth the effort if you are curious. Well documented and full of facts and numbers. Read morePublished on December 16, 2009 by Book Worm
There aren't many nooks and crannies that Kevin Starr doesn't explore in Coast of Dreams, a history of California from 1990 - 2003. Read morePublished on June 29, 2009 by nto62
Coast of Dreams: California on the Edge, 1990-2003, the 7th installment of Kevin Starr's "Americans and the California Dream" series, brings the great California story through the... Read morePublished on May 31, 2005 by Carl Palm