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.
After editing at City Book Review for a few years, I took up the duties of editorial assistant, which include assigning books for review, posting reviews to our various sites, and nagging reviewers for things. In my non-nagging time, I’m a gamer, artist, writer, and notorious black thumb/bane of plants. My answer to every book-related question: read Octavia Butler.
|Page Count||496 pages|
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