Farewell, Promised Land: Waking from the California Dream

Overview

Though the Gold Rush and its adventurous spirit helped define the California Dream, progress ultimately came at a price. When photographer Robert Dawson and writer Gray Brechin received the 1992 Dorothea Lange - Paul Taylor Prize from Duke University's Center for Documentary Studies, they began a five-year project of exploring California to record the present state of its environment and the legacy of the California Dream. Their study grew to include the historical and social forces that are so radically altering...
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Overview

Though the Gold Rush and its adventurous spirit helped define the California Dream, progress ultimately came at a price. When photographer Robert Dawson and writer Gray Brechin received the 1992 Dorothea Lange - Paul Taylor Prize from Duke University's Center for Documentary Studies, they began a five-year project of exploring California to record the present state of its environment and the legacy of the California Dream. Their study grew to include the historical and social forces that are so radically altering one of the earth's most favored and mythical regions. This book is the result Dawson and Brechin peel back the myth to reveal California as an ironic and often tragic place that few travelers, whether tourist or native, ever encounter. A sobering reminder of the Golden State's possible future, Farewell, Promised Land also introduces individuals and organizations committed to rescuing the state from its present course of exploitation. Dawson and Brechin show how the image of California was and continues to be shaped through mass media, and they conclude that if California is indeed the bellwether for the nation, then its fate has relevance to every other place living with the pressures of development.
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Editorial Reviews

James Houston
Troubling and illuminating makes a fresh and startling impact, thanks to the skillful and complementary blending of prose and pictures. In photo after photo, Dawson's unflinching eye requires us to look again at the world we inhabit. . . . Gray Brechin's text is full of pictures, too. His writing is supple and admirably concise, combining factual knowledge with vivid imagery. The book's final chapter is devoted to stories of inspirational resistance, paying tribute to groups and individuals who have worked to protect or restore various chunks of this state--from the Nature Conservancy and the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission to the UrbanGarden League and the Mothers of East L.A. . . . Their book is both an indictment and an eloquent plea, reminding us that this legendary region is not a cornucopia of limitless reserves but a bountifully endowed place with very specific limits that have to be acknowledged, honored and attended to.
San Francisco Chronicle
Mike Davis
Don't mistake the message of this sad and powerful book. After 150 years of pillage and pollution, it's time to fight like hell for California.
Mike Davis
Don't mistake the message of this sad and powerful book. After 150 years of pillage and pollution, it's time to fight like hell for California.
— Author of City of Quartz
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520211247
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 3/31/1999
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 253
  • Product dimensions: 11.50 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Dawson is coauthor of The Great Central Valley: California's Heartland (California, 1993); his work has been featured in numerous publications and exhibitions. His photographs of the American West have been recognized by a Visual Arts Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. He teaches photography at San Jose State University and at Stanford University. Gray Brechin is a historical geographer and has authored articles on the environment and environmental history. He has a Ph.D. in geography from the University of California, Berkeley.

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