"Miriam Pawel's fascinating book . . . illuminates the sea change in the nation's politics in the last half of the 20th century."--New York Times Book Review
California Book Award Gold Medal Winner * Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize * A Los Angeles Times Bestseller * San Francisco Chronicle's "Best Books of the Year" List * Publishers Weekly Top Ten History Books for Fall * Berkeleyside Best Books of the Year * Shortlisted for NCIBA Golden Poppy Award
A Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist's panoramic history of California and its impact on the nation, from the Gold Rush to Silicon Valley--told through the lens of the family dynasty that led the state for nearly a quarter century.
Even in the land of reinvention, the story is exceptional: Pat Brown, the beloved father who presided over California during an era of unmatched expansion; Jerry Brown, the cerebral son who became the youngest governor in modern times--and then returned three decades later as the oldest.
In The Browns of California, journalist and scholar Miriam Pawel weaves a narrative history that spans four generations, from August Schuckman, the Prussian immigrant who crossed the Plains in 1852 and settled on a northern California ranch, to his great-grandson Jerry Brown, who reclaimed the family homestead one hundred forty years later. Through the prism of their lives, we gain an essential understanding of California and an appreciation of its importance.
The magisterial story is enhanced by dozens of striking photos, many published for the first time. This book gives new insights to those steeped in California history, offers a corrective for those who confuse stereotypes and legend for fact, and opens new vistas for readers familiar with only the sketchiest outlines of a place habitually viewed from afar with a mix of envy and awe, disdain, and fascination.
Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Pawel (The Crusades of Cesar Chavez) continues to explore the California political landscape with this well-written and deeply researched dual biography of the late Pat Brown, the state's governor from 1959 to 1967, and his son Jerry Brown, who was governor from 1975 to 1983 and reelected in 2011. The senior Brown is fairly described as a traditional politician whose career had a traditional trajectory, while son Jerry called "Governor Moonbeam" by a Chicago newspaper columnist is anything but: in addition to a peripatetic political career that included three runs at the Democratic presidential nomination, a term as California's attorney general, and time as the mayor of Oakland, Calif., Jerry's personal history involved formative years as a novice in a Jesuit seminary and a serious investigation of Buddhism. Pawel returns again and again to the connection between Pat and Jerry, who were respectful and tender toward one another despite their differences. She also underscores the powerful influence of women specifically Bernice Brown, Pat's wife of 66 years and Jerry's mother; Anne Gust Brown, whom Jerry married late in life; and Jerry's sister Kathleen, who made her own run at California's governorship in 1994 in the two men's lives. The backdrop for all of this is the rich history of California, illuminated with small historical details that are a testament to Pawel's research. In her capable hands, readers will find the Browns and California captivating subjects.