A narrative tour de force that combines wide-ranging scholarship with captivating prose, Kevin Starr's acclaimed multi-volume Americans and the California Dream is an unparalleled work of cultural history. In this volume, Starr covers the crucial postwar period--1950 to 1963--when the California we know today first burst into prominence.
Starr brilliantly illuminates the dominant economic, social, and cultural forces in California in these pivotal years. In a powerful blend of telling events, colorful personalities, and insightful analyses, Starr examines such issues as the overnight creation of the postwar California suburb, the rise of Los Angeles as Super City, the reluctant emergence of San Diego as one of the largest cities in the nation, and the decline of political centrism. He explores the Silent Generation and the emergent Boomer youth cult, the Beats and the Hollywood "Rat Pack," the pervasive influence of Zen Buddhism and other Asian traditions in art and design, the rise of the University of California and the emergence of California itself as a utopia of higher education, the cooling of West Coast jazz, freeway and water projects of heroic magnitude, outdoor life and the beginnings of the environmental movement. More broadly, he shows how California not only became the most populous state in the Union, but in fact evolved into a mega-state en route to becoming the global commonwealth it is today.
Golden Dreams continues an epic series that has been widely recognized for its signal contribution to the history of American culture in California. It is a book that transcends its stated subject to offer a wealth of insight into the growth of the Sun Belt and the West and indeed the dramatic transformation of America itself in these pivotal years following the Second World War.
About the Author
Kevin Starr is University Professor and Professor of History, University of Southern California, and State Librarian of California Emeritus. His Americans and the California Dream series has earned him the National Medal for the Humanities, the Centennial Medal of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences of Harvard University, the Gold Medal of the Commonwealth Club of California, a Guggenheim fellowship, and election to the Society of American Historians.
Table of Contents
Part One: Suburban Assumptions
1. San Fernando: Homes and Happiness in Residential Subdivisions
2. Designs for the Good Life: Modernism, Tiki, Ranch
Part Two: Urban Perspectives
3. Urban Expectations: San Diego Leverages Itself into Big City Status
4. Baghdad by the Bay: Herb Caen's San Francisco
5. The Cardinal, the Chief, Buff, and Walter O'Malley: Upgrading the City of Angels
6. Downsides and Dividends: Los Angeles as Super City
Part Three: Politics and Public Works
7. Common Ground and the Party of California: The Reluctant Retirement of Goodwin J. Knight
8. Cold War Campus: The University of California and Other Secret Places
9. Freeways to the Future: An Epic Construction on Behalf of the Automobile
10. Mare Nostrum: Achieving the California Water Project
Part Four: Art and Life
11. Provincials, Baghdader, and Beats: Literary San Francisco in the 1950s
12. Big Sur: The Search for Alternative Value
13. The Silent Generation: Coming of Age on the Coast of Dreams
14. Brubeck! Jazz Goes to College
Part Five: Growth and the Environment
15. Ahwahnee and the John Muir Trail: Variations on an Outdoor Theme
16. Largest State in the Nation: A Rebellion against Growth and the Destruction of the Environment
Part Six: Changing Times
17. Dissenting Opinions: California Enters the Nineteen Sixties
18. Cool, Not Cool: Epilogues and Transitions