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This opulent reference traces the history of California with nearly 500 period maps, which range from incunabula-era world diagrams that show no evidence of the Americas to topographical, NASA-captured satellite photos. Hayes (America Discovered) offers more than just the state's emergent political boundaries and geological elevations. He presents a fascinating, map-based chronicle of the region's legendary gold rush, the gradual domination of its railroads, the development of its diverse ethnic composition, its blazing urban cataclysms, and its role in World War II. While laudably information-dense, the text is also an appealing, highly enjoyable read.