The Journal of San Diego History
Fall 2001, Volume 47, Number 4
Gregg Hennessey, Editor

Book Notes

Kyle E. Ciani, Reviews Editor

Farewell, Promised Land: Waking from the California Dream.

By Robert Dawson and Gray Brechin. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999. 233 Pages, maps, photographs, notes, bibliography, index. $N.A. Papercover.

Nearly a hundred and fifty years after the Gold rush, author Gray Brechin and photographer Robert Dawson spent five years travelling around California exploring what the state had come to since the Gold Rush helped fix the California Dream on the state. It is an often depressing book in which they strip away layers of myth and replace them with contemporary realities. They do this with text and photographs. Although focusing on the depressing abuse of the state’s natural setting, the authors introduce a limited sense of optimism, as they believe that maintenance and restoration can reverse some of the damage. A thoughtful book, which will be of interest to all California environmentalists and policymakers, Farewell, Promised Land suffers from a major flaw. It is mis-titled — it should be called Waking from the Northern California Dream. Reflecting the author’s backgrounds, the book focuses overwhelmingly on the area north of the Tehachapi Mountains. There is relatively little on the Los Angeles basin, and almost nothing on San Diego — one photograph and only a few pages of text. Readers of the Journal of San Diego History will be left wondering if San Diego is a part of California.


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