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Download The Seven States of California: A Natural and Human History epub

by Philip L. Fradkin

A survey of the seven distinct ecological areas of California looks at the natural features that typify each province, and links them to stories about the people found there, from Native Americans to Chinese laborers. 15,000 first printing.
Download The Seven States of California: A Natural and Human History epub
ISBN: 0805019472
ISBN13: 978-0805019476
Category: History
Subcategory: Americas
Author: Philip L. Fradkin
Language: English
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co; 1st edition (July 1, 1995)
Pages: 474 pages
ePUB size: 1214 kb
FB2 size: 1741 kb
Rating: 4.2
Votes: 217
Other Formats: mobi docx azw txt

I usually don't do online reviews, but in this case I feel that any future purchasers should know what they are getting if they buy this book. As I read it, I was puzzled at the author's logic. He divides California into seven provinces. As a long-time California resident who has worked and traveled in every corner of the state, I'm not sure his divisions are logical, but that's the author's prerogative. However, he spends virtually no time developing the social or natural environment in any of his provinces. The Sierra is reduced to a lengthy history of Donner Pass, a 20-mile stretch of I-80 which is hardly representative of the 700-mile region. No mention of John Muir, the Gold Rush, or the conservation movements that led to the national parks. The Fractured Province manages to avoid any discussion of San Francisco, Silicon Valley, or Monterey - treating us to a simplistic and sensationalist discussion of earthquakes and the author's personal experiences in Marin County. The Great Valley goes into depth on Turlock; San Diego gets no mention; and so on.
Along the way, we're treated to the author's progressive philosophies delivered in the form of standard tropes with cherry-picked anecdotes to support them. If you're in agreement with him, you might enjoy it, but there is no sophistication in any of his positions. The most interesting insight is when he describes a meeting he had with lumber company executives, whom he describes as "the bad guys". Nice to see what a public employee really thinks about other Californians.
It wasn't until the acknowledgments (oddly placed at the end of the text) that it became clear what the book was about. In it, he mentions that he wanted to write a racial history of California, but his agent talked him to revising the concept. He wrote what he wanted anyway and just packaged it as something else to sell it. I felt cheated when I saw what he had done.
So if you like rambling anecdotes about California and want to feel good about your progressive beliefs, go ahead and get this book. If you want insight into what makes California unique, you'll get more by reading the preface of any Cary McWilliams book.
Interesting book. As a second-generation California native, I learned a lot about my home state.
This book is a blend of scholarly research, oral history, and personal anecdotes that take the reader on a journey through California as unique melange. To lovers of a particular California region (and we all have at least one), this book is invaluable.
While the author does provide some valuable insights into the history of California, (1) he does not adhere to his implied objective of demonstrating how the varied environments in the state of California contribute to the behavior of the people of that region; (2) his narrative really describes the universal negatives of the human condition and does not isolate behaviors directly attributable to being in California; (3) he is committed to an exploration of the negative with little reference to positive behavior. What he describes is true of mankind in any place or time and does not add to an understanding of California. I was increasingly disappointed the more I read and his negativism soon became tedious. I don’t recommend this book
I'm a newcomer to California. I moved here in 2003. As such, I missed out on the standard public school education about California. This book makes up for what I missed. And then some.

The author wanders around California in his VW bus. How cool is that?! Because of this, we end up with a very personal and enjoyable saunter through seven ecological areas of California. I especially loved his visits to the more remote areas of our state. And I learned much: the line drawings by Blythe are certainly on my list to visit now that Fradkin introduced me to them. And the Tule Lake area, with its amazing history, will get a visit from me soon too.

The book is readable, enjoyable, enthralling, disturbing (at times). I'd give it a five star review except for two problems:

1. The author thinks that restoring the California Condor is a waste of money. I quibble with that. No amount of money spent to undue the damage to the Condor is wasted.

2. There is a glaring error on page 60 of the edition of the book I read. In discussing the Manson murders (while hiking up to the Barker Ranch), Fradkin states "...and one of his followers, Squeaky Fromme, later shot and wounded President Gerald Ford in Sacramento". This never happened. It is a glaring error. Regretable that such a fine book would make such a serous mistake.

Other than that, I look forward to reading more of Philip Fradkin's work.
A great book and a good read: Patrica Nelson Limerick's The Legacy of Conquest: The Unbroken Past of the American West meets John McPhee's Assembling California. Part human geography, part revisionist history, part travel narrative, Fradkin looks at events big and small from a perspective other than the railroad, mining, and timber barons, and the civic boosters of the Golden State. One focus is on the untold stories of the Native Americans, Chinese, Japanese, Irish and the others marginalized in previous histories. Another focus is the realm of the natural world (Grizzly bear, salmon, the Cascade volcanos e.g.)and how it influenced the past and how it is reflected into the present, sometimes ironically. Fredkin weaves these together with his personal experience and research and produces a very readable, entertaining and often disconcerting whole. I have spent much time in the past reseaching California's history for professional and academic purposes and this book taught me much. Highly recommended.