Embattled Dreams

Embattled Dreams : California in War and Peace, 1940-1950

4.14 (61 ratings by Goodreads)
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The sixth volume in one of the great ongoing works of American cultural history-Kevin Starr's monumental Americans and the California Dream-Embattled Dreams is a peerless work of cultural history following California in the years surrounding World War II. During the 1940s California ascended to a new, more powerful role in the nation. Starr describes the vast expansion of the war industry and California's role as the "arsenal of democracy" (especially the significant part women played in the aviation industry). He examines the politics of the state: Earl Warren as the dominant political figure, the anti-Communist movement and "red baiting," and the early career of Richard Nixon. He also looks at culture, ranging from Hollywood to the counterculture, to film noir and detective stories. And he illuminates the harassment of Japanese immigrants and the shameful treatment of other minorities, especially Hispanics and blacks. In Embattled Dreams, Starr again provides a spellbinding account of the Golden State, narrating California's transformation from a regional power to a dominant economic, social, and cultural force. "With a novelist's eye for the telling detail, and a historian's grasp of the sweep of grand events...[Starr's] got it all down...I read the book with absorbed admiration."-Herman Wouk, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Caine Mutiny and The Winds of War "The scope of Starr's scholarship is breathtaking."-Atlantic Monthly "A magnificent accomplishment."-Los Angeles Times Book Review "Brilliant and epic social and cultural history."-Business Week "Ebullient, nuanced, interdisciplinary history of the grandest kind."-San Francisco Chronicleshow more

Product details

  • Paperback | 416 pages
  • 140 x 228 x 30mm | 680.39g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195168976
  • 9780195168976
  • 1,456,387

Review quote

The 1940s, that decade of wars both hot and cold, changed California more than any other era in history. Kevin Starr leaves nothing out. Here are the shifting politics and populations, the burgeoning shipyards and aircraft factories, the movies, the novels * the whole culture of this exciting society in profound transition. How does he focus so much detail into such a lively, driving narrative? * California, in all its mythical splendor and promise, is in fact America stripped naked of myth. That is why Kevin Starr, who knows and recites California's epic better than anyone, must be judged one of America's finest living historians. Read all six of his volumes and lose your dreams...in dreams. * Walter A. McDougall, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for The Heavens and the Earth: A Political History of the Space Age * No one knows the shadows and light of the California Dream better than Kevin Starr. World war and political repression brought darkness to the dream, but Starr reminds us of what makes California compelling, as the home of American heartbreak and American promise. * Virginia Scharff, Director, Center for the Southwest, University of New Mexico * Kevin Starr is an absolutely wonderful writer, passionate, learned, born, as they said of Samuel Johnson, to wrestle with whole libraries. In Embattled Dreams, he has surpassed himself. This is his best book yet." * Max Byrd, author and Professor of English, UC Davis * An exciting picture of how California changed during World War II, yet remained irrepressibly the same. Kevin Starr has captured the whole cockeyed chiaroscuro, with a novelist's eye for the telling detail, and a historian's grasp of the sweep of grand events. From the Hollywood Canteen to the Black Dahlia mystery, from the plight of the Okies and the Japanese to the gargantuan military buildup and the Golden State's bone-deep frivolity, he's got it all down. I was there, and I know. I read the book with absorbed admiration. * Herman Wouk, Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Caine Mutiny and The Winds of War * Exploring that enigmatic blend of dreams and hardscrabble reality has been Kevin Starr's lifework in his brilliant and epic social and cultural history of the state. * Eric Schine, Business Week * This is ebullient, nuanced, interdisciplinary history of the grandest kind, drawing parallels and distinctions where perhaps no one ever thought to see them before. Starr's a born storyteller as well, mining a rich seam of anecdotal coal to animate the complex, enigmatic figures California history bustles with.... Starr is an undervalued and irreplaceable public treasure. * David Kipen, San Francisco Chronicle * The scope of Starr's scholarship is breathtaking; this is a social, economic, political, and cultural history that covers such disparate subjects as popular San Francisco restaurants, shipbuilding, changes in domestic architecture, Raymond Chandler's fiction, the roots of anti-Japanese sentiment, baseball's Pacific Coast League, and the rise of Richard Nixon. * Ben Schwarz, Atlantic Monthly * For ambition, narrative drive and breadth of research across the disciplines from culture through politics and demography to agronomy and water management, no recent project of American historical writing comes close to Kevin Starr's mammoth, multi-volume 'Americans and the California Dream'.... It is a magnificent accomplishment.... Starr's project all along has been at least as concerned with the California of the imagination as with the California of fact and has assumed that realities do begin in dreams... Starr is at least as good a narrator of nightmares as he is of the beauties, successes or accomplishments of the California experience. * David Rieff, Los Angeles Times Book Review *show more

About Kevin Starr

Kevin Starr is the State Librarian of California. He also holds the rank of University Professor in the Department of History at the University of Southern California.show more

Rating details

61 ratings
4.14 out of 5 stars
5 38% (23)
4 44% (27)
3 15% (9)
2 2% (1)
1 2% (1)
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