The Seven States of California: A Natural and Human History / Edition 1

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Overview


What explains California? To a large extent, as Philip Fradkin's rich, exuberant portrait makes clear, it's the multiple landscapes and the different states of mind that best define America's most populous, diverse, and fabled state. Fradkin divides California into seven distinct ecological and cultural provinces—from the hot deserts and high peaks to the rich agricultural Central Valley, the redwood forests of the north and sandy beaches of the south. Describing geographical regions based on their emblematic landscape features, Fradkin intertwines natural and social history.

The author divides California into seven distinct ecological provinces, selecting from each one a feature upon which to hang a series of linked stories about characters as dissimilar as Native Americans and ranchers, politicians and railroad builders, Chinese laborers and Hollywood celebrities. Photos.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this ambitious and highly readable attempt to explain California, Fradkin (An American Nuclear Tragedy) reveals how the state's landscape has helped shape its destiny. Hanging his narrative on geological features of seven regions of the state (e.g., a series of dry lakes, a mountain, a lava bed, an earthquake fault), he puts heavy emphasis on California's violent past and present: the destruction of the Modoc Indians, anti-Chinese pogroms, the incarceration of Japanese Americans in WWII, the death of James Dean (``a California life, a California death, a California life after death''), a serial killer in Marin County, drive-by shootings so common they are no longer news. Into these and numerous other topics Fradkin weaves personal impressions of this richly textured land and its restless population acquired during his 35 years residing in the state. The vision throughout is distinctly negative. As to California's future, Fradkin sees it as ``a dark, chaotic time,'' a statement typical of this masterly but withering interpretation of the Golden State. (July)
Booknews
Fradkin, a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist, offers a portrait of America's most populous, diverse, and transcendent state. He describes seven distinct ecological and cultural provinces within the state as a background to a series of linked stories about natural and human history, touching on subjects including immigration, violence and conflict, environmental issues, and attempts to control natural resources and natural disasters. Contains b&w photos. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520209428
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 5/12/1997
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 474
  • Sales rank: 1,073,110
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author


Philip Fradkin is the author of six highly acclaimed books on the American West, including the newly updated A River No More (California, 1996). A former environmental writer for the Los Angeles Times, he also served as Assistant Secretary of the California Resources Agency, as Western editor for Audubon magazine, and has taught nonfiction writing at Stanford and UC Berkeley. He shared in a Pulitzer prize awarded to the Los Angeles Times for coverage of the 1965 Watts racial conflict.
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