Embattled Dreams

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

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The sixth volume in Kevin Starr's monumental cultural history of California, Embattled Dreams deals with the years of World War II and after. In the 1940s California changed from a regional centre into the dominant economic, social and cultural force it has been in America ever since. The book follows the story of California year by year through the decade. It starts with people leading the complacent "good life" on the eve of the war (1940); then the decades-long harrassment of Japanese immigrants and their culture culminating in Pearl Harbor (1941); California as a strategic centre for military training and deployment; the shameful treatment of minorities, especially Hispanics and blacks (1943); California as the "arsenal" of democracy", especially the significant role women played in in the aviation industry (1944); Hollywood's "contributions" to the war (1945); veterans' homecoming and the creation of a "counterculture" with Henry Miller at Big Sur (1946); crime, newspapers, film noir, Raymond Chandler and hardboiled fiction in Southern California (1947); Earl Warren as governor and dominant political figure (1948); the anti-communist movement and "red baiting" (1946); and the coming of the Korean War and the California career of Richard Nixon (1950). The book continues the sweep and original perceptions already well-established in Starr's series, Americans and the California Dream. Starr is a skillful storyteller, and the book has all the drive and awesome learning of his earlier books. California in the years surrounding World War II was a special story, full of dramatic change, drama and intrigue, heroism and tragedy, and the emergence of a new. more powerful role for California in the nation. Starr captures this story with his unique vision and masterful prose.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 400 pages
  • 163.1 x 243.1 x 33.3mm | 771.12g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 16pp halftones
  • 0195124375
  • 9780195124378

Review quote

"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"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"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"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"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"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"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"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?" --Stephen Fender, Research Professor of American Studies, University of Sussex "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 "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 "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 "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 forthe 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 "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 "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 "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 "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 aircraftfactories, 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?" --Stephen Fender, Research Professor of American Studies, University of Sussex "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 "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 "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 "An exciting picture of how California changed during World War II, yet remained irrepressibly the same. Kevin Starr has captured thewhole 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 "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 "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 "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 "The 1940s, that decade of wars both hot and cold, changed California more than any other era in history. Kevin Starrleaves 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?" --Stephen Fender, Research Professor of American Studies, University of Sussex "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"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 historybustles with.... Starr is an undervalued and irreplaceable public treasure."--David Kipen, San Francisco Chronicle"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"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'seye for the telling detail, and a historian's grasp of the sweep of grand events. From the Hollywood Canteen to theBlack 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 CaineMutiny and The Winds of War"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"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"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...indreams." --Walter A. McDougall, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for The Heavens and the Earth: A Political History of the Space Age"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 shipyardsand aircraft factories, the movies, the novels--the whole culture of this excitingsociety in profound transition. How does he focus so much detail into such a lively, driving narrative?" --Stephen Fender, Research Professor of American Studies, University of Sussexshow 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

62 ratings
4.12 out of 5 stars
5 37% (23)
4 44% (27)
3 16% (10)
2 2% (1)
1 2% (1)
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