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California

A History
Written by: Kevin Starr
Narrated by: Jonathan Davis
Length: 13 hrs and 16 mins
Categories: History, Americas

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Publisher's Summary

Acclaimed author, historian, and Guggenheim Fellow Kevin Starr is a professor at the University of Southern California. His extensive knowledge shines through this concise, yet comprehensive, depiction of the most fascinating aspects in California's history. From its colonial beginnings through Governor Schwarzenegger's administration, the Golden State has become a uniquely American phenomenon that has enchanted people with the possibility of a better life. In so doing, it has become a uniquely American phenomenon.
©2005 Kevin Starr (P)2005 Recorded Books, LLC

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Philo
  • 2015-06-10

I'm finally fixing my patchy CA history

This is an amazing walk through time and space. California seemed to loll on the edge of nowhere culturally (at least by European perceptions, so this excludes a large body of native peoples with very rich lives, alongside its impossibly beautiful natural resources), and then it exploded through a series of convulsive changes into the modern world. There are probably as many views of this as viewers. My own bit of California has been a bit of all this: gorgeous and heartbreaking. This esteemed expert historian has mastered a huge mass of swirling details, and brought them into a coherent story here. This brings my California experience to a whole new level.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Theresa
  • 2011-11-10

Review

Excellent book for fan of history or simply for one trying to understand how modern California became so fascinating, complex and the current struggles all the more fascinating. An excellent audio book for anyone doing a 2 day drive along the length of CA or with a 5 hour flight to CA.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • MiamiMe
  • 2018-03-27

Interesting read, until it's not

I picked this book up to get a better idea of the history, people and places of importance to California's history. And while the author does a credible job of keeping a straight timeline from past to present, I would have wished he had gone into more detail about the people and personalities who helped shape those events. Moreover, it would have been nice for the author to break from the timeline every now and then to show how those people and events helped shape later day California. Overall, it isn't a bad use of time to listen to this book. And Jonathan Davis is a great narrator who does a better than average job with material that's a bit "meh" in places.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Stephen
  • 2019-11-25

Serious Flaws in Narration

The narrator makes several significant errors in reading the text. In the opening chapter he refers to $1.7 billion in California exports instead of $117 billion in the text. In the next chapter he says Mount Whitney as the second highest peak in continental US when the text correctly names it as the highest. These careless mistakes in the performance compromise the overall integrity of the audiobook.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Ninotchka
  • 2012-05-17

Informative and Fun

I live in California and wanted to learn more after a recent trip through the State. I was never good with history and was uncertain if I would like this. I enjoyed the story and the narration! A good job and a fun story. I was astounded at learning how California developed its character and was happy I had chose this author. If you are interested in the subject then this is a good one.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • dane
  • 2018-02-20

More Facts than Story

I am happy to have finished this book. On one hand because it was not a riveting narrative and the sentence by sentence of facts and notable Californians was a little numbing. But also because I thorougly enjoyed this history and those not so riveting facts will stay with me forever.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael Hogan
  • 2019-11-15

Eye opening, fairly written.

I have lived in California all my life. This book has opened my eyes and increased my understanding immensely. It has also made me even more proud to be a Californian, despite or maybe because of the less than perfect but nevertheless outstanding state.

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  • Aaron W.C.
  • 2019-03-19

Reader Comments

This book is highly recommend to all the people of California. It is an amazing book that expertly tells the history of the amazing State of California. This book is highly recommend to adults and teachers that teach the history of California. The history of California in this book is interesting and a good source of learning material.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Seth D.
  • 2019-02-15

Only Good up to 1900

It started off really good but half way through he stopped his comprehensive history of the state and meandered through details that were almost exclusively about LA and San Francisco thereby neglecting everything else. For example he spends almost five minutes going on about jazz musicians in San Francisco but gives the creation of water districts and irrigation like a paragraph at most.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • David
  • 2018-04-19

Solid information

If you want a solid, listenable history of California that's neither too long nor too short, this is what you need. It covers the early history really well. Toward the end, it becomes more thematic than chronological and loses some narrative drive as a result, but it's still interesting.

The narrator is perfectly decent, and doesn't mangle the Spanish names too much.