A History



Kevin Starr


The Modern Library, 2007


ISBN: 978-0-8129-7753-0


You will find here a highly readable, abridged version of the history of California. In general it isn’t easy to write a historical account of anything in such a digestible format, but the author pulls it off nicely. Rather than falling into the trap of aimlessly listing important dates, places and characters without a cohesive thread, the author weaves an engaging story of the State, objectively written, with the good, the bad and the ugly all blatantly exposed for the reader. Make no mistake, there are plenty of dates, places and characters for those who care, but most can be ignored or forgotten without losing the narrative and understanding how the State came into its current state. All manner of topics are covered, from politics, to education, to religion to the arts and sciences so there is something for every interest. That said, if you are short on time and particularly interested in the role California has played in advancing science, you can skip straight to chapter 10 (‘O Brave New World!’) to get the summary; no need to read the preceding chapters. If you have even less time to dedicate to this book, it would be advisable to at least peruse the chronology (pgs xv-xxv) to get the highlights.