Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Well written review of two books on California

The London Times Literary Supplement contains an excellent review of two recent books on California, one of which I have read, which is the brilliant historian, Kevin Starr's latest on California history.

Starr is one of the best prose writers around, while Vollman is a more eclectic writer, stronger in his non-fiction than his fiction (in this blogger's opinion, anyway!).

Most of Starr's books on California are must reads. His interweaving of architectural, cultural, political and economic trends in various books, starting with the first book through the 1930s history of California, at least, reveal why California is a microcosm of the United States, and yet, a world community unto itself, with all the paradox that phrase evokes.

My review of Starr's latest is here.

There are only two other writers who can rival Starr on California history, and they are (1) Josiah Royce, whose own history of California, written in the 1880s, is part-Chomskyesque in its exposure of the hypocrisy and brutality that began the western conquest of California (the chapters on General Fremont are delicious!), yet had a strong love for the State and its people overall, and (2) Carey McWilliams, whose works on California are polemical, but highly insightful and informative--and outstanding prose.

California, we need a constitutional convention, don't we?

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