The Browns of California: The Family Dynasty that Transformed a State and Shaped a Nation
The Browns of California is an interesting, sometimes engaging look at a unique California political family that produced two governors (Edmund G. and Jerry) and a state treasurer (Kathleen). The work appears to be well edited and contains no evident factual errors. Yet the book lacks something.
We get a hint of what’s lacking when Pawel references, on seven different pages, former California historian, state librarian, and USC professor Kevin Starr. Starr wrote an impressive multi-volume history of the state under the series title, Americans and the California Dream. The most impressive of these volumes may have been Material Dreams: Southern California Through the 1920s. Each work soared in flight because of Starr’s uniquely impressive writing style, which reflected his childlike wonderment over the miracle that is California. By contrast, Pawel’s style is competent but flat. This vehicle never leaves the runway.
Another issue is that while Pawel addresses Jerry Brown’s uniqueness, she never stops to reflect on how very strange his ideas appeared at the time he arrived at them. Yes, he may have been, to his credit, ahead of his time, but he was never of his time.
The Browns is a seemingly credible, but just passable, account that never quite comes to life.
Chris Hayden has been working at City Book Review since 2012, so that makes him the keeper of knowledge. He manages the office and book reviewers (all 200 of them!), which is no small feat. If you’re looking at the book reviews here, you’re seeing them because he sent the books out for review. Without him, this place would fall apart, because no one else in the office knows how to use the postage machine. Two words: job security.
|Page Count||496 pages|
|Amazon||Buy this Book|