Douglas H. Strong, Book Review Editor
San Diego: An Introduction to the Region. Edited by Philip R. Pryde. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, 1976. Illustrations. Index. Maps. 267 pages. $6.95.
Reviewed by Robert W. Durrenberger, Director of the Laboratory of Climatology, Arizona State University, author of California: Patterns on the Land, and other books on California.
The San Diego area has been a magnet that has attracted many visitors since the landing of the Spaniards in 1769. Some who have come to visit have been so attracted that they have lingered on and become San Diegans. Others, less fortunate, return at every opportunity to walk the ocean beaches, visit the zoo, and eat in the many fine restaurants in the city of San Diego and its suburbs. Most individuals enjoy the region without fully appreciating or understanding the reasons that it is so attractive or in understanding how the metropolitan area achieved its present forms or functions. Thus, both native San Diegan and the visitor who returns often to the region will appreciate and benefit from reading San Diego: An Introduction to the Region.
Although it was obviously prepared for students in classes in the history and geography of San Diego, it is a book that many other individuals will buy and peruse. It is not something that you will pick up and read cover to cover, but, rather, is a reference book for the region. Are you interested in learning more about the landforms of San Diego? Then read Chapter Two—Geomorphology of San Diego County. Successive chapters inform you about other facets of the natural and cultural environments, settlement patterns, natural resources, urban development, and about problems of maintaining the quality of the physical environment and of planning for the future.
The book is well illustrated with photos, maps, and graphs. Most of these serve their purposes well, but a few suffer from over-reduction, being reproduced at a scale smaller than the cartographer intended them to be. However, these are minor problems that can be corrected in another edition.
In general, the various chapters are well written, but the book suffers somewhat from the same problems that plague all multiple-authored texts. There is some overlap between certain chapters and the treatment accorded the topics is uneven. As one example, there might have been a more extensive early chapter on the evolution of the cultural landscape so that the chapters on agriculture, mining, etc., could have been devoted to the modern period. However, these are the choices that editors must make in putting the work of a number of authors together in one volume, and, all in all, Pryde has done a good job of unifying the text so that it tells the story of man and nature along the Southern California Coastal Zone in a coherent manner.
And, as Pryde points out, the citizens of the region are going to have to become informed and involved if they are to act in a positive manner to keep San Diego an attractive place in which to live and to visit. For, although San Diego is a region of sunshine, ocean beaches, museums, golf courses, zoos, mountains, theatres, resorts, deserts and opportunities, it has also become a region of smog, unemployment, inadequate transportation services, and an overly enthusiastic human response to the amenities provided by man and nature. Thus, it is essential that the citizens of San Diego learn to cope with the many problems created by the vast influx of humanity into this beautiful and historic region.