The Rising in the West: The Great Depression Through the Reagan Years

The Rising in the West: The Great Depression Through the Reagan Years

by Dan Morgan
     
 

Like the Joads of Steinbeck's unforgettable The Grapes of Wrath, Oca Tatham and his family trekked west with the millions of Americans who fled the Great Depression in search of jobs and hope in California. Rising in the West presents the magnificent story of what became of this family, and opens a fascinating, heretofore almost unchronicled chapter of American…  See more details below

Overview

Like the Joads of Steinbeck's unforgettable The Grapes of Wrath, Oca Tatham and his family trekked west with the millions of Americans who fled the Great Depression in search of jobs and hope in California. Rising in the West presents the magnificent story of what became of this family, and opens a fascinating, heretofore almost unchronicled chapter of American experience. Drawing on years of intensive historical research, as well as countless interviews with family, friends, and associates, Dan Morgan gives us the Tathams' remarkable lives in absorbing detail. In less than half a century, they went from migrant fruit-picking to middle-class prosperity in the promised land of California, where they got caught up in the quintessential realities of the Sun Belt: agribusiness, irrigation projects, the defense industry, real-estate development, nursing home chains, and football franchises. But like so many white Southerners who went west coming from nothing, the Tathams remained outsiders. As individualistic Christians ever wary of mainstream American life and skeptical of mainstream notions of success, they found their place in that cohesive Sun Belt culture whose religious, ethical, and political outlook would form the basis of the New Populism that manifested itself so dramatically in the Reagan Revolution. More than anything else, fundamentalist Pentecostalism is at the heart of the Tathams' experience. The brush arbors and storefront churches of Oca's youth are linked by generations of deep religious commitment to the huge revivalist tabernacles that dot southern California. While the family has always been bound together by the fervor of their faith, Morgan shows how that faith is being tested today, not only as the Tathams confront inevitable family adversities like alcoholism, terminal illness, and troubled marriages, but also as they, and others like them, take their stand on the deeply divisive issues - including abortion and school prayer - topping the n

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This deft, often spellbinding true story of the westward migration and upward mobility of an American farming family follows the plucky Tathums as they stagger across the 1930s American landscape from one hardscrabble hamlet to the next until reaching ``Californy.'' In Fresno, they clamber up the social ladder--picking grapes, selling potatoes and furniture--managing to rise surprisingly high. Washington Post reporter Morgan ( Merchants of Grain ) skillfully evokes the post-Civil War South, the prairie, Oklahoma, pentecostal churches and sleepy, still-developing California, showing the Tathums getting rich and supporting ultra-conservative candidates and causes. His sympathetic portrait of members of the religious right compels respect for their hard work and values. But the book's second half never achieves the mythic resonance of the opening chapters, with their stirring depiction of a brave family riding a truck towards the unknown. Photos. BOMC and QPB alternates. (Sept.)
Library Journal - Library Journal
Morgan ( Merchants of Grain , Viking, 1979), a journalist with the Washington Post , admits to a lifelong fascination with John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath . In 1984, he set out to discover the people and countryside immortalized in Steinbeck's novel of Depression-era America. He discovered the Tathams and the Tacketts, two of the hundreds of families who, like the fictional Joads, joined the great ``Okie'' migration westward in the 1930s. Drawing upon hundreds of hours of interviews, Morgan chronicles the life stories of Oca Tatham and his descendants, who in less than half a century went from migrant fruit picking to middle-class prosperity in the promised land of California. The author tends to be wordy and the style tedious; but in the end both general readers and scholars in oral history and family studies will profit from this book. BOMC alternate.-- Thomas H. Appleton Jr., Kentucky Historical Soc., Frankfort

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780394574530
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
09/29/1992
Edition description:
1st ed
Pages:
512

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