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Americans and the California Dream, 1850-1915

Kevin Starr

Publication Date - December 1986

ISBN: 9780195042337

512 pages

Retail Price to Students: $39.99

The first volume in Kevin Starr's history of California, this book explores the Golden State's formative years in the nineteenth century.


Examining California's formative years, this innovative study seeks to discover the origins of the California dream and the social, psychological, and symbolic impact it has had not only on Californians but also on the rest of the country.


"Highly readable...The book is full of surprises, it is constantly challenging...A fine performance."--Pacific Historical Review

"[Starr] is bringing much to Western social and literary history."--American Historical Review

"One devil of a fine book, a book only a native Californian could write...about the Inner Life of California, the psychic landscape that emerges from the works and ways of her writers, both native and self-adopted. The result is a mature, well-proportioned and marvelously diverse (and diverting) study."--The New York Times Book Review

"A very important book."--Joseph H. Krause, California State University, Long Beach

"Indispensable...Starr's book does for California what Henry Nash Smith's 'Virgin Land' did for the opening of the West: it demonstrates how idea, myth, misconception and hope shaped and often distorted a developing society."--Los Angeles Times

"A vivid portrayal of the rich and varied intellectual forces which helped shape one of our most distinctive regional cultures."--St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"An exceptional work, both in thought and magnitude...Both scholars and laymen will find this volume a worthwhile addition to their libraries."--History: Reviews of New Books

"A highly original inquiry into the interplay of vision and event.'"--Virginia Quarterly Review

"A captivating narrative that documents the importance of myth and imagination in attracting Americans to California before World War I."--R.H. Limbaugh, University of the Pacific