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Orange Empire: California and the Fruits of Eden Hardcover – February 7, 2005
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Top Customer Reviews
Or actually two books. The first portion describes how the orange industry began and grew, and has fascinating detail on marketing, how the fruit became a national food. This includes the ups and downs of business, publicity and more. The second portion is more about the struggles with labor, featuring cameo appearances by John Steinbeck and Dorothea Lange. The book manages to contain both of the stories rather well. It amounts to how widely should the fruits of Eden be shared. The story begins around 1870 and stops in the 1930s.
In a sense this is a story about the stories told, of deliberate images (the development of Sunkist, for example, is detailed, and is fascinating). The story of oranges was told as an element of heath and goodness and of California sun. The story of the labor disputes in a sense is of two conflicting world views, the orange turned sour.
This California has vanished under the weight of development and population increases, but it is an informative account of an earlier version of the state, one in which storytelling was as important as today.
Overall, the book tells an interesting story through the rise and fall of the industry challenging the constructed utopian idealism of the orange through Sackmans analysis of the exploitative practices of big industry on nature and culture. It can be a bit of a dry read but Sackman uses vivid imagery, that transports you to the landscape and time. The book is extensively researched and cited, providing great resources for further exploring of the subject. This book is a must read for anyone interested in the development of California and the history of big agriculture, labor and the environment.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I haven't completed reading as yet, but the text seems repetitive and unorganized. The author must have been paid by the word as he drones on and on while never really imparting... Read morePublished 11 months ago by viewman