Lately I have been researching the printing of the very first California Supreme Court cases and this book caught my eye. The author, Kevin Starr1, was the California State Librarian from 1994 to 2004 and is currently a history professor at USC whose research focuses on California history. His book starts with the very first description of California in literature in 1510 and takes the reader through the Spanish colonial era, the Mexican era and then into the Gold Rush and establishment of California as an American state. I am fascinated by this time period. An assortment of ambitious adventurers descended on California and created towns and a state government in record time. Starr argues that never before had “such a diverse population assembled itself so rapidly under one political system.” Keep in mind that to get to California from the east coast of the United States at that time a person could choose to sail around Cape Horn – a trip that took about six months – or travel overland and brave crossing the Sierra Nevada. As a California native I enjoyed learning and thinking about the people who came here and created the California dream. The book goes on to describe more recent history up to the time of the Schwarzenegger administration but I have to admit that I can’t get past the 1850’s and California as the wild west.
Another special feature of this book is that it was a gift from Professor Heyman. He'll always have a place in the library at call number KFC78 .S733 2005.
1 Not to be confused with Ken Starr, the Independent Counsel during the Clinton administration!