• California

  • A History
  • By: Kevin Starr
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Davis
  • Length: 13 hrs and 16 mins
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (263 ratings)

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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
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What listeners say about California

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

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.

11 people found this helpful

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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.

9 people found this helpful

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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.

8 people found this helpful

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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.

6 people found this helpful

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Sad excuse for a history.

The book has some overall interesting tidbits, but too often devolves into a history of little more than a survey of racial conflict told from the author’s clearly liberal political viewpoint. The laudatory language used to describe those individuals and groups he finds sympathetic is over the top, while toward the end he provides little more than boilerplate Democratic Party talking points on issues like illegal immigration, which quickly becomes tiresome. The search for a decent, comprehensive history of the stage goes on.

2 people found this helpful

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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.

2 people found this helpful

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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.

2 people found this helpful

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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 people found this helpful

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Strong start, then falls apart

About 1/3 rd through, the book begins to drift from a connected history to a series of historical observations of events that further devolve into observations about people who were born to n or lived in California. I gave up when the author notes that Ted Williams once played AAA baseball in California. Really? This pertains to California history how? Look, history is not just political history, but bring it all together. This book is okay-to-good.

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    4 out of 5 stars

Informative

A little dry, but very illuminating. History, injustice, and economics all well told. Told with the rest of the US in mind.

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Profile Image for Katherien Watt
  • Katherien Watt
  • 05-17-15

Excellent insight into the state of California

Really enjoyed this comprehensive view of California and the elements that made it what it is today. I purchased this audio book prior to my first visit to the state and found the detail fascinating and it enriched my experience of the trip my only disappointment is that it only goes up to 2005.