Western History & Genealogy Blog

New Books in Western History (8.9.09)

More reviews of new books for those interested in Western history, including the life, politics, and culture of grapes, peaches, and pluots; sacrifice and influence in an ancient city; and new reviews for books previously noted here ...

In the Los Angeles Times, Nick Owchar reviews Vivienne Sosnowkski’s When the Rivers Ran Red: An Amazing Story of Courage and Triumph in America's Wine Country, a study of the surprising consequences of Prohibition in Northern California. Among those surprises, Sosnowski describes how Prohibition created a boom, and then something of a bubble, for the region’s grape growers as demand grew and grew across the United States. And the apparently simple act of dumping wine, creating the circumstances described in its title, proved disastrous for the local environment. A copy of Sosnowski's When the Rivers Ran Red is already available for use in the Western History & Genealogy Department.

Nicolette Hahn Niman delights in David Mas Masumoto’s Wisdom of the Last Farmer: Harvesting Legacies From the Land, the latest memoir of a Japanese-American family’s life on their California peach farm, in her review for the San Francisco Chronicle. In the same paper, Christina Eng reviews Chip Brantley’s The Perfect Fruit: Good Breeding, Bad Seeds, and the Hunt for the Elusive Pluot, a work she finds “straightforward and occasionally humorous,” with “insight on a burgeoning industry, one that can benefit farmers, retailers and consumers.” A copy of Masumoto's Wisdom of the Last Farmer has been ordered for the Western History & Genealogy Department, and several more of his works are available in DPL's circulating collection and in the Western History & Genealogy Department. Copies of Brantley's The Perfect Fruit are available in DPL's circulating collection, and a copy has been ordered for the Western History & Genealogy Department.

Reviews of Timothy R. Pauketat’s Cahokia: Ancient America’s Great City on the Mississippi River appear in the Washington Post and at Salon. Located in today’s East St. Louis, Illinois, Cahokia was an enormous urban complex, reaching its peak in the 12th century, and unrivaled in population until the rise of eighteenth-century Philadelphia. Andrew O’Hehir’s Salon review calls Pauketat’s work a “cautious and mesmerizing new book,” drawing a picture of a remarkable culture, replete with sacrifice, and its extraordinary and durable influence throughout the Mississippi Valley and Plains. A copy of Pauketat's Cahokia has been ordered for the Western History & Genealogy Department.

In addition to those noted here last week, more notices for David Brinkley’s Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America have appeared, including Jonathan Rosen’s New York Times review and podcast, Bob Blaisdell’s review in the San Francisco Chronicle, and a review by James E. McWilliam in the Austin American-Statesman. And additional reviews of William T. Vollmann’s Imperial, also noted in last week’s review of reviews, have appeared in the Boston Globe and the Washington Post