Monday, August 17, 2009

Kevin Starr - Golden Dreams: California in an Age of Abundance, 1950-1963


Host Marilyn Stoddard reports on local author Kevin Starr's July 29th visit to Keplers to discuss his book, Golden Dreams: California in an Age of Abundance, 1950-1963:

We are fortunate that Kevin Starr has chosen to bring his research skills and storytelling abilities to the writing of California History. The period covered by this book was one of expansion beginning with a surge in population after WWII. By the end of the period, California passed New York as the most populous state in the nation. Starr examines the positive and negative effects of that development. The building of multiple freeways and water projects amounted to the biggest infrastructure project in the world. It was a period of political centrism with a string of moderate Republican governors. There was a consensus that it was a good thing to spend on areas such as higher education and parks. It helped that defense spending was pervasive in the 50's. Starr describes the major economic, social, and cultural forces during this decade plus. The tale is enlivened by portraits of significant people in many fields.

Peninsula readers will particularly enjoy the chapters "Baghdad by the Bay: Herb Caen's San Francisco", "Provincials, Baghdaders, and Beats: Literary San Francisco in the 50's", "Cold War on Campus", and "Big Sur: The Search for Alternative Value".

Keven Starr, a fourth generation San Franciscan, brings an enthusiasm for California History to his book and to his presentations. At Kepler's he mentioned many names of people covered in the book and could clearly have gone on for another hour or more.

5 comments:

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Anonymous said...

Once again Kevin Starr had written a fascinating and breathless synthesis of an important era in California history. Unfortunately, his storytelling is undermined by shallow fact-checking and copyediting that introduces a second level of factual errors.

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