The Elusive Eden
July 1, 1988
Raymond Starr, Book Review Editor
The Elusive Eden: A New History of California
By Richard B. Rice, William A. Bullough, and Richard J. Orsi. New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1988. Illustrations. Maps. Bibliographies. Index. 620 Pages.
The authors of The Elusive Eden: A New History of California have tried-and pretty much succeeded-in presenting a new generation of a California history textbook. They have sought to subordinate the usual mythology of California’s past to a strong narrative based upon the most recent scholarship in the field, and the most up-to-date concepts among historians as to what is important and what is not. Thus they have focused on the myriad of peoples who came into the area in pursuit of that elusive “California Dream,” and they have told us both about those who succeeded in the quest for “Eden,” and those who struggled and often failed. The selection of topics and illustrations, and the writing style are fresh and illuminating. Each chapter is followed by a well selected bibliography to guide the reader to more information. As a general one volume history of California, The Elusive Eden is highly recommended.