Heritage Shared Book Recommendations and Reviews
We recommend these three excellent, eminently readable books on subjects that could
easily be difficult: 1491 by Charles
Mann, A Short History of Nearly
Everything by Bill Bryson, and Oil on the Brain by Lisa Margonelli.
The Big Sur Trilogy by Lillian Bos Ross and Gary M. Koeppe.
The California Deserts, An Ecological Rediscover. 2008. Pavlik,
Bruce M. University of California Press. 384 pages.
"To see the natural world through Bruce Pavlik's
eyes is always a delight, for he is among the finest ecologists
and nature writers in the West. But to explore with Bruce the
range of California's desertstheir deep history and
diversityis a special treat, for we see them not as 'big empty'
wastelands, but as elegant landscapes rich with relationships.
Both human and other-than-human beings contribute to these
relationships, and no one has told their stories as well as
Pavlik has done." Gary Nabhan, author of Arab/American:
Landscape, Culture, and Cuisine in Two Great Deserts.
Fire in California's
2006. Sugihara, N.G., J.W. Van Wagtendonk, K.E.
Shaffer, J. Fites-Kaufman, and A. E. Thode, editors. University of
California Press, Berkeley, CA. 596 pages. (Chapter 14 is entirely
devoted to the "Central Coast Bioregion.")
Fractal Architecture: Design
for Sustainability, 2007.
Ken Haggard and Polly Cooper. BookSurge Publishing.
"The old adage
'architecture is frozen music' would be better stated in the
context of fractal geometry as: 'architecture is music at a
myriad of time scales.' Certainly architecture is not frozen
in time. From the start of construction, the decay of
buildings is a slow but inevitable process.
The time of day and season bring different
aspects of lighting and temperature characteristics to
structures. Buildings viewed as objects frozen in space is
an industrial era abstraction that is not only false, but so
simplistic as to disconnect buildings from a great deal of
"Stravinsky said: 'in music, only the now counts.' We
could say that
in architecture many nows count--short-term nows,
being counted at once. Architecture as an environmental
therefore more complex, and often less pure, due to the
of users and players. However, if orchestrated well,
have the aesthetic impact of music." Contact the San Luis Sustainability Group for more information.
Hard Road West: History and
Geology Along the Gold Rush Trail, Keith Heyer Meldahl
Historical Atlas of California:
With Original Maps, Derek Hayas. University of California Press,
2007, 256 pages.
This atlas tells the story of California's past from a unique
perspective. It is lavishly illustrated with approximately 500 maps
and many other illustrations. The illustrations are accompanied by
extended captions and concise narrative. The work is unique because
only historical maps and other adornments were utilized in contrast
to existing atlases that are comprised mainly of new cartographic
materials. This is a beautiful atlas that is instructive and a
pleasure to view.
Introduction to Fire in California, David Carle (Berkeley: UC Press, 2008) Review by Robert Pavlik, 14 October 2008.
David Carle is on fire. Since his retirement from the California Department of Parks and Recreation in 2000, he has authored or co-authored nine books, three in the UC Press Natural History series. His first was on Water in California, the second looks at air, and the most recent is also the most incendiary – Fire in California.
It’s a hot topic right now, following so closely on the heels of some major conflagrations over the past few years. After reading this fine work, its easy to predict that more are on the way.
The Wave readers are familiar with some of them: in the fall of 2003 devastating fires roared through Silverwood Lake SRA and Cuyamaca Rancho SP. Last year a 150,000+ acre file burned in the Santa Barbara backcountry for more than a month, and this year, fires have raged across California, from Goleta to Big Sur to Mendocino to Paradise. As I write this, fires once again are encircling the San Fernando Valley.
A small fire in Malibu in January 2007 burned several multimillion dollar homes. The locals blamed State Parks, saying the Department didn’t clear “brush” away from their exotically landscaped mansions. Didn’t anyone ever tell them that when you plunk yourself down into a fire dependent community you might get burned?
Dave Carle’s book comes just in time. Its compact, concise, and a great read. It is lavishly illustrated and comprehensive in its treatment of the subject. The author examines the role of fire in ecosystems across California, from the redwood forests to riparian areas, oak savannas, and the deserts. His treatment of fire and wildlife is particularly interesting and informative. I was fascinated to learn about fire beetles that swarm to the site of a fire storm from several miles away to lay their eggs in freshly killed trees. Carle also addresses the physical impact of fire on soils, air, and water, and the complex relationship between climate change and fire.
He concludes this fascinating volume with a chapter on living with fire in the Golden state. Carle details what to do before a fire strikes, during a fire, and after the event. Its must reading for Californians who live in what is known as the wildland-urban interface. The bibliography indicates the author’s careful research, indeed mastery, of the subject. This is a book that belongs in every ranger station across California.
Immigration at the Golden
Gate: Passenger Ships, Exclusion, and Angel Island by Robert Eric
Barde, Praeger/Greenwood Press, March 2008
Angel Island is both an important
piece of American history and a metaphor for the immigration
process on the West Coast. To illuminate the many facets of the
Chinese immigration experience in California in the late 19th
and early 20th centuries, Barde follows the various threads of
one Chinese female immigrants 20-month detention on Angel
Island. Her experience was extraordinarynot only in being the
longest known detention at the Immigration Station, but in being
connected to so many important events and central characters in
immigration through the Golden Gate. Her tale is chillingly
relevant to todays debates over exclusion and detention.
The author is Deputy Director of the Institute of Business and
Economic Research at the University of California, Berkeley.
With Susan Carter and Richard Sutch, he is author of the
International Migration chapter for the Millennial Edition of
Historical Statistics of the United States. His writings on
immigration history include articles for Social Science History
and the Journal of the History of Medicine. Before working for
UC Berkeley, Barde made documentary films on Africa for
educational television in Canada, founded a gallery of modern
African art, and earned a black belt in karate. He holds a
graduate degree in Political Economy from the University of
Many of his writings on immigration, African art, and karate are
available on his website.
On the Banks of San Simeon Creek: San Simeon Pioneers by Clark Colahan (Central Coast Publishing, 2011, $19.95). Read a synopsis by Clark Colahan.
Peak Everything: Waking up to the Century of
Declines, Richard Heinberg, New Society Publishers, 2007
Richard Heinberg has written three books on peak
oil and his new work widens the environmental and resource scope
of his forecasts. He provides compelling evidence that the
limits we all have been hearing about for decades are really
upon us. He also hints at the directions we may take to escape
or adjust to resource limitations.
Point Piedras Blancas, an Images of America Book by Arcadia
Paperback: 128 pages, docent Carole Adams.
For thousands of years, Point Piedras Blancas, located along the
central coast of California, has attracted people to its rocky,
windswept shores. In ancient times, it was used by Native American
cultures. Since 1875, it has been the site of a First Order
Lighthouse, warning ships to steer clear of its rocky shoals, a duty
it continues to fulfill. Although the years have not been kind to
this stunning area nor to the lighthouse, new life is being breathed
into it by a partnership of enthusiastic community volunteers and
government agencies. Their common goal is to restore this
magnificent site to its original state while reintroducing the
natural environment that was almost obliterated during the past four
decades. Authors Carole Adams and John Bogacki are both deeply
involved with the efforts to restore Point Piedras Blancas. Adams is
a volunteer at the Piedras Blancas Light Station, and Bogacki is a
former site manager. They have created a visual representation of
the story of Point Piedras Blancas using photographs, illustrations,
and architectural drawings that are part of the Bureau of Land
Management Piedras Blancas Light Station Collection. The authors
proceeds go to the Piedras Blancas Light Station Association for
restoration and education.
State Boundaries of America: How, Why and When American State Lines Were Formed by Tegan and Jerry Hansen is an original
book detailing the formation of each state of the United States.
From the introduction:
"The United States - the What and the Where is
well known: watch any network national weather broadcast. Here
is explained the Who, When and (as possible) Why from as wide a
variety of sources as possible.
An atlas of the USA is useful reference when reading this;
adding a historical atlas would be ideal. The USA is a layer
cake of interstate boundaries in most cases laid down over many
years. The intent here is to provide a cross-referenced dataset
showing literally the portions of original text in Royal
Charters, Royal Grants, International Treaties, and US
Territorial or Federal Statutes spanning 300+ years that laid
down the lines as we see them in 2006. "
Testimonios: Early California Through
the Eyes of Women, 1815-1848. 2006. Translated with introduction
and commentary by Rose Marie Beebe and Robert m. Senkewicz. Heyday
Books, Berkeley, California.
The book is comprised of thirteen women's firsthand accounts from
the time when California was part of Spain and Mexico. Many of these
chronicles come from women who lived in San Luis Obispo and nearby
Kevin Starr describes (on the dust jacket) the book this way: "Testimonios is a pioneering work of scholarship and critical interpretation by
two of the finest Hispanicists active in early California studies.
It is also a deeply moving act of liberation in which thirteen women
are called forth from the tomb of neglected history so that they
might at long last speak to us of their lives and times and the
California they helped bring into being."