Similar authors to follow
See more recommendations
Customers Also Bought Items By
From the age of exploration to the age of Arnold, the Golden State’s premier historian distills the entire sweep of California’s history into one splendid volume. Kevin Starr covers it all: Spain’s conquest of the native peoples of California in the early sixteenth century and the chain of missions that helped that country exert control over the upper part of the territory; the discovery of gold in January 1848; the incredible wealth of the Big Four railroad tycoons; the devastating San Francisco earthquake of 1906; the emergence of Hollywood as the world’s entertainment capital and of Silicon Valley as the center of high-tech research and development; the role of labor, both organized and migrant, in key industries from agriculture to aerospace. In a rapid-fire epic of discovery, innovation, catastrophe, and triumph, Starr gathers together everything that is most important, most fascinating, and most revealing about our greatest state.
Praise for California
“[A] fast-paced and wide-ranging history . . . [Starr] accomplishes the feat with skill, grace and verve.”—Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Kevin Starr is one of california’s greatest historians, and California is an invaluable contribution to our state’s record and lore.”—MarIa ShrIver, journalist and former First Lady of California
“A breeze to read.”—San Francisco
Starr brilliantly illuminates the dominant economic, social, and cultural forces in California in these pivotal years. In a powerful blend of telling events, colorful personalities, and insightful analyses, Starr examines such issues as the overnight creation of the postwar California suburb, the rise of Los Angeles as Super City, the reluctant emergence of San Diego as one of the largest cities in the nation, and the decline of political centrism. He explores the Silent Generation and the emergent Boomer youth cult, the Beats and the Hollywood "Rat Pack," the pervasive influence of Zen Buddhism and other Asian traditions in art and design, the rise of the University of California and the emergence of California itself as a utopia of higher education, the cooling of West Coast jazz, freeway and water projects of heroic magnitude, outdoor life and the beginnings of the environmental movement. More broadly, he shows how California not only became the most populous state in the Union, but in fact evolved into a mega-state en route to becoming the global commonwealth it is today.
Golden Dreams continues an epic series that has been widely recognized for its signal contribution to the history of American culture in California. It is a book that transcends its stated subject to offer a wealth of insight into the growth of the Sun Belt and the West and indeed the dramatic transformation of America itself in these pivotal years following the Second World War.
Kevin Starr has achieved a fast-paced evocation of three Roman Catholic civilizations—Spain, France, and Recusant England—as they explored, evangelized, and settled the North American continent. This book represents the first time this story has been told in one volume. Showing the same narrative verve of Starr's award-winning Americans and the California Dream series, this riveting—but sometimes painful—history should reach a wide readership.
Starr begins this work with the exploration and temporary settlement of North America by recently Christianized Scandinavians. He continues with the destruction of Caribbean peoples by New Spain, the struggle against this tragedy by the great Dominican Bartolomé de Las Casas, the Jesuit and Franciscan exploration and settlement of the Spanish Borderlands (Florida, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Baja, and Alta California), and the strengths and weaknesses of the mission system.
He then turns his attention to New France with its highly developed Catholic and Counter-Reformational cultures of Quebec and Montreal, its encounters with Native American peoples, and its advance southward to New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico. The volume ends with the founding of Maryland as a proprietary colony for Roman Catholic Recusants and Anglicans alike, the rise of Philadelphia and southern Pennsylvania as centers of Catholic life, the Suppression of the Jesuits in 1773, and the return of John Carroll to Maryland the following year.
Starr dramatizes the representative personalities and events that illustrate the triumphs and the tragedies, the achievements and the failures, of each of these societies in their explorations, treatment of Native Americans, and translations of religious and social value to new and challenging environments. His history is notable for its honesty and its synoptic success in comparing and contrasting three disparate civilizations, albeit each of them Catholic, with three similar and differing approaches to expansion in the New World.
As he recreates the "lost California," Starr examines the rich variety of elements that figured in the growth of the Southern California way of life: the Spanish/Mexican roots, the fertile land, the Mediterranean-like climate, the special styles in architecture, the rise of Hollywood. He gives us a broad array of engaging (and often eccentric) characters: from Harrision Gray Otis to Helen Hunt Jackson to Cecil B. DeMille. Whether discussing the growth of winemaking or the burgeoning of reform movements, Starr keeps his central theme in sharp focus: how Californians defined their identity to themselves and to the nation.
headlands of Marin County, as if to suggest the paradox of California
and America itself-the place that Fitzgerald saw as the last spot
commensurate with the human capacity for wonder. The bridge, completed
in 1937, also announced to the world America's engineering prowess and
full assumption of its destined continental dominance. The Golden Gate
is a counterpart to the Statue of Liberty, pronouncing American
achievement in an unmistakable American fashion. The nation's very
history is expressed in the bridge's art deco style and stark
Kevin Starr's Golden Gate is a brilliant and
passionate telling of the history of the bridge, and the rich and
peculiar history of the California experience. The Golden Gate is a
grand public work, a symbol and a very real bridge, a magnet for both
postcard photographs and suicides. In this compact but comprehensive
narrative, Starr unfolds the hidden-in-plain-sight meaning of the Golden
Gate, putting it in its place among classic works of art.
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.
In a lively and eminently readable narrative, Starr reveals how Los Angeles arose almost defiantly on a site lacking many of the advantages required for urban development, creating itself out of sheer will, the Great Gatsby of American cities. He describes how William Ellsworth Smyth, the Peter the Hermit of the Irrigation Crusade, the self-educated, Irish engineer William Mulholland (who built the main aquaducts to Los Angeles), and George Chaffey (who diverted the Colorado River, transforming desert into the lush Imperial Valley) brought life-supporting water to the arid South. He examines the discovery of oil, the boosters and land developers, the evangelists (such as Bob Shuler, the Methodist Savanarola of Los Angeles, and Aimee Semple McPherson), and countless other colorful figures of the period. There are also fascinating sections on the city's architecture the impact of the automobile on city planning, the Hollywood film community, the L.A. literati, and much more.
By the end of the decade, Los Angeles had tripled in population and become the fifth largest city in the nation. In Material Dreams, Starr captures this explosive growth in a narrative tour de force that combines wide-ranging scholarship with captivating prose.
In Continental Ambitions: Roman Catholics in North America , the first volume of Kevin Starr's magisterial work on American Catholics, the narrative evoked Spain, France, and Recusant England as Europeans explored, evangelized, and settled the North American continent. In Continental Achievement: Roman Catholics in the United States, the focus is on the participation of Catholics, alongside their Protestant and Jewish fellow citizens, in the Revolutionary War and the creation and development of the Republic.
With the same panoramic view and cinematic style of Starr's celebrated Americans and the California Dream series, Continental Achievement documents the way in which the American Revolution allowed Roman Catholics of the English colonies of North America to earn a new and better place for themselves in the emergent Republic.John Carroll makes frequent appearances in roles of increasing importance: missionary, constitution writer for his ex-Jesuit colleagues, prefect apostolic, controversialist and defender of the faith, bishop, founder of Georgetown, Cathedral developer, archbishop and metropolitan, and negotiator with the Court of Rome. In him, the Maryland ethos regarding Roman Catholicism reached a point of penultimate fulfillment.
Starr also vividly portrays other representative personalities in this formative period, including Charles Carroll, the only Catholic to sign the Declaration of Independence; his mother, Elizabeth Brooke Carroll, Sulpician John DuBois, whose escape from France in 1791 was arranged by Robespierre; convert Elizabeth Bayley Seton, founder of the first American sisterhood, the Sisters of Charity;Stephen Moylan, Muster-Master General of the Continental Army; Polish military engineer Thaddeus Kosciuszko; Colonel John Fitzgerald, an aide-de-camp to General Washington; Benedict Flaget, the first Bishop of Bardstown, Kentucky; merchant sea captain John Barry, who fought and won the last naval battle of the war; and William DuBourg, Bishop of Louisiana, who offered a Te Deum in a ceremony honoring General Andrew Jackson after his victory in the Battle of New Orleans. With his characteristic honesty and rigorous research, Kevin Starr gives his readers an enduring history of Catholics in the early years of the United States.
Starr previously chronicled how Californians absorbed the thousand natural shocks of the Great Depression--unemployment, strikes, Communist agitation, reactionary conspiracies--in Endangered Dreams, the fourth volume of his classic history of California. In The Dream Endures, Starr reveals the other side of the picture, examining the newly important places where the good life flourished, like Los Angeles (where Hollywood lived), Palm Springs (where Hollywood vacationed), San Diego (where the Navy went), the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena (where Einstein went and changed his view of the universe), and college towns like Berkeley. We read about the rich urban life of San Francisco and Los Angeles, and in newly important communities like Carmel and San Simeon, the home of William Randolph Hearst, where, each Thursday afternoon, automobiles packed with Hollywood celebrities would arrive from Southern California for the long weekend at Hearst Castle.
The 1930s were the heyday of the Hollywood studios, and Starr brilliantly captures Hollywood films and the society that surrounded the studios. Starr offers an astute discussion of the European refugees who arrived in Hollywood during the period: prominent European film actors and artists and the creative refugees who were drawn to Hollywood and Southern California in these years--Igor Stravinsky, Arnold Schoenberg, Man Ray, Bertolt Brecht, Christopher Isherwood, Aldous Huxley, Thomas Mann, and Franz Werfel. Starr gives a fascinating account of how many of them attempted to recreate their European world in California and how others, like Samuel Goldwyn, provided stories and dreams for their adopted nation. Starr reserves his greatest attention and most memorable writing for San Francisco. For Starr, despite the city's beauty and commercial importance, San Francisco's most important achievement was the sense of well-being it conferred on its citizens. It was a city that "magically belonged to everyone."
Whether discussing photographers like Edward Weston and Ansel Adams, "hard-boiled fiction" writers, or the new breed of female star--Marlene Dietrich, Jean Harlow, Bette Davis, Carole Lombard, and the improbable Mae West--The Dream Endures is a brilliant social and cultural history--in many ways the most far-reaching and important of Starr's California books.
In Endangered Dreams, Starr paints a portrait that is both detailed and panoramic, offering a vivid look at the personalities and events that shaped a decade of explosive tension. He begins with the rise of radicalism on the Pacific Coast, which erupted when the Great Depression swept over California in the 1930s. Starr captures the triumphs and tumult of the great agricultural strikes in the Imperial Valley, the San Joaquin Valley, Stockton, and Salinas, identifying the crucial role played by Communist organizers; he also shows how, after some successes, the Communists disbanded their unions on direct orders of the Comintern in 1935. The highpoint of social conflict, however, was 1934, the year of the coastwide maritime strike, and here Starr's narrative talents are at their best, as he brings to life the astonishing general strike that took control of San Francisco, where workers led by charismatic longshoreman Harry Bridges mounted the barricades to stand off National Guardsmen. That same year socialist Upton Sinclair won the Democratic nomination for governor, and he launched his dramatic End Poverty in California (EPIC) campaign. In the end, however, these challenges galvanized the Right in a corporate, legal, and vigilante counterattack that crushed both organized labor and Sinclair. And yet, the Depression also brought out the finest in Californians: state Democrats fought for a local New Deal; California natives helped care for more than a million impoverished migrants through public and private programs; artists movingly documented the impact of the Depression; and an unprecedented program of public works (capped by the Golden Gate Bridge) made the California we know today possible.
In capturing the powerful forces that swept the state during the 1930s--radicalism, repression, construction, and artistic expression--Starr weaves an insightful analysis into his narrative fabric. Out of a shattered decade of economic and social dislocation, he constructs a coherent whole and a mirror for understanding our own time.
During the 1940s California ascended to a new, more powerful role in the nation. Starr describes the vast expansion of the war industry and California's role as the "arsenal of democracy" (especially the significant part women played in the aviation industry). He examines the politics of the state: Earl Warren as the dominant political figure, the anti-Communist movement and "red baiting," and the early career of Richard Nixon. He also looks at culture, ranging from Hollywood to the counterculture, to film noir and detective stories. And he illuminates the harassment of Japanese immigrants and the shameful treatment of other minorities, especially Hispanics and blacks.
In Embattled Dreams, Starr again provides a spellbinding account of the Golden State, narrating California's transformation from a regional power to a dominant economic, social, and cultural force.
"With a novelist's eye for the telling detail, and a historian's grasp of the sweep of grand events.... [Starr's] got it all down.... I read the book with absorbed admiration."--Herman Wouk, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Caine Mutiny and The Winds of War
"The scope of Starr's scholarship is breathtaking."--Atlantic Monthly
"A magnificent accomplishment."--Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Brilliant and epic social and cultural history."--Business Week
"Ebullient, nuanced, interdisciplinary history of the grandest kind."--San Francisco Chronicle