Care to recommend a good history of California?


The title says it all. Any good recommendations? I’d like something that stretches back as far as and also a book which deals with more current history. If its two different tomes, so be in. Any ideas would be much appreciated.

Try The Elusive Eden: A New History of California by Rice, Bullough, and Orsi. I had it as a textbook once. Pretty comprehensive.

You can also try Kevin Starr’s “California: A History” which is a distillation of some of his period works about the state and takes you up through the Schwarzenegger election.

It’s been a while, so I don’t know if these are current, but there is also the following:

California, A History by Anne Rolle

California An Interpretive History by Rawls & Bean

Kevin Starr is generally the most well-recognized expert on California history though

Thanks so far, guys. These look like exactly what I’ve been looking for.

There are also books on California politics and public policy if you need them:

The New California : Facing the 21st Century by Dan Walters

Politics and Public Policies in California by Culver & Shelley

Politics and Government in California by Hyink Brown & Provost

For anyone dropping in, I’d like to mention that John McPhee’s “Assembling California” book was pretty intriguing for anyone who wants to read a geological history of the state. Sounds dry but isn’t, which, if you’ve read McPhee, is no surprise.

I really like The WPA Guide to California, one of the 48 state history/guidebooks produced during the 1930s by the Federal Writers’ Project of Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration. ProtoBeat poet/essayist Kenneth Rexroth wrote the San Francisco section!