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Looking for good books about the political/cultural milieu of California
June 18, 2011 2:42 PM   Subscribe

I want to find books to read about the following issues: 1. Voter initiatives origins and modern day status (i.e. is it all like California?) 2. The conditions/plight of immigrants: Mexican, Korean, Hmong, Vietnamese, Japanese, Chinese, etc. 3. The increasing segregation of whites and non-whites in CA 4. Open to suggestions

I started reading Paradise Lost which focuses on the perpetual budget deficit in California ushered in by Proposition 13 as well as other voter initiatives that have radically changed the state in just a generation or two largely for the worse. The implication is that voter initiatives have changed from grassroots movements to monetized corporate nonsense.

I might just be looking for a sequel to Paradise Lost but I want to learn more about the following issues:
* Voter initiatives origins and modern day status (i.e. is it all like California?)
* The conditions/plight of immigrants: Mexican, Korean, Hmong, Vietnamese, Japanese, Chinese, etc. (considering reading Imperial a sprawling 1100 page tome about Imperial Valley; really enjoyed The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down about a Hmong family who struggles with well meaning doctors at Merced University Hospital to do their best for their child who has severe epilepsy)
* The increasing segregation of whites and non-whites in CA
posted by maykasahara to Society & Culture (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
On the topic of segregation, try Making a non-white America.
posted by Joh at 3:12 PM on June 18, 2011


I've heard decent things about The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir by Kao Kalia Yang, though it's about a Hmong family settling in Minnesota, so it falls down on the California part. I had big issues with The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, starting with the scene at the beginning where the woman gives birth (it's presented humorously, but then you realise the experience was awful, terrifying or both) and I'm told this book avoids them (not surprisingly, given that the author is Hmong).
posted by hoyland at 6:45 PM on June 18, 2011


It's about ten years old, but David Broder's Democracy Derailed: Initiative Campaigns and the Power of Money is great.
posted by celilo at 6:56 PM on June 18, 2011


I'm reading a good book on the history of asian immigrants in the US, which of course is substantially about CA. I've found it really informative, so much of this stuff I'd only learned about vaguely. It's great to read the details of both the conditions into which people immigrated and the struggles to improve those conditions.

Strangers Form a Different Shore by Ronald Takaki
posted by abirdinthehand at 8:43 PM on June 18, 2011


Kevin Starr's books are some of the best on California history.
posted by gingerbeer at 8:47 PM on June 18, 2011


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