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The Elusive Eden, 4/e
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Our changes to this edition of The Elusive Eden were guided by the same principles that shaped previous revisions. Our collective eighty-plus years of teaching the state’s history convince us of two verities: the first, that Californians—natives and newcomers alike—study their state’s past out of a genuine, sometimes avid interest; the second, that Californians like a good story. Consequently, we have retained the book’s original organization, with only a few changes. After an introductory prologue of three chapters (Part I), the book is arranged in a series of generally chronological parts, each consisting of three chapters and dealing with a recognized era. Most sections begin with a feature essay or narrative chapter about a specific person or event that relates directly to the period under study. These narrative chapters are designed to give the reader a feel for the “texture” of history, suggesting how groups and individuals grappled with and shaped historical change. Occasionally these chapters include passages from primary sources, evoking the distinctive flavor of their times. Our goal in pursuing this design has always been to bring California's history to life, hopefully capturing the interest of readers and provoking thought and debate. The narrative chapters focus on all sections of the state: north and south, central valleys and coast, urban and rural settings. Two treat individual women (Chapters 10 and 19); one considers early conflicts between Natives and newcomers (Chapter 4), a theme revisited as Mexicans and Natives adjusted to the arrival of Americans (Chapter 7). One chapter examines Japanese California, another looks at the black experience (Chapters 22 and 25), and another concentrates on the environment (Chapter 28). In each of the ten parts, the two chapters that follow are traditional, more or less chronological accounts of that period's history. Interior chapters have been updated to reflect recent scholarship, and the last chapter brings the California story up to the November 2010 state and national elections.

Given this framework, the narrative chapters will not appear to follow strict chronological order. They may highlight events that occurred in the beginning, middle, or even at the end of the period under discussion. The authors believe, however, that these stories evoke the main themes of the chronological chapters that follow. We hope that any disadvantages that result from historical discontinuity are outweighed by gains in readability and by greater opportunities for thought-provoking discussion.

As in earlier editions, we strive to deal sensitively with questions about race, ethnicity, and gender. We believe that respect for history mandates that we weave Californians of every stripe into the historical fabric of the state, because each group is integral to the warp and woof of human affairs. Accordingly, we reflect often on the status of women, both locally and nationally, and on the struggle of minorities to prosper and thrive, often against great odds. We consider the contribution each makes to the story of California.

Dealing with the vast scope, incredible diversity, and fascinating nuances of California history continues to confront us with painful decisions. In this edition, it was more difficult than ever to fold in new scholarship and bring the story current without doubling the book's length and cost. We can only empathize with those who find their favorite episodes in California's story neglected. Some of our own favorites fell to the editorial axe this time, too. To compensate, we have expanded our lists of suggested readings, now located at the end of the book. There interested readers will also find listed the books, articles, newspapers, and archival materials this history draws upon.

In this version of the book, like the first three, each of us undertook principal responsibility for specific chapters: Professor Rice for Chapters 7–9 and 19–24; Professor Bullough for Chapters 10–12, 16–18, and 25–27; Professor Orsi for Chapters 1–6, 13–15, and 28. Mary Ann Irwin, who worked on each of the chapters, is primarily responsible for Chapters 29 and 30. Initials of specific authors appear at the end of each Feature Essay. Although collaboration continues to inform our efforts, each of us assumes sole responsibility for the content of his or her chapters.


So many people helped us to complete this book that it is impossible to mention every one of them. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to all, particularly colleagues in the Department of History and the Library of California State University, East Bay. We are also indebted to the staffs at the Huntington Library; the Bancroft Library; the Newberry Library; the California State Library; Stanford University Library; the California Historical Society; the California State Railroad Museum; the Tulare County Library; the Kings County Library; Trinity County Historical Society; the California Department of Water Resources; the California Department of Transportation; the California Air Pollution Control Board; the United States Geological Survey; the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge; and Save San Francisco Bay Association.

Some individuals deserve special thanks, particularly Patricia Bullough for her contribution to the essay on John Steinbeck and to Pauline Thompson for her essay on Anna Morrison Reed. Finally, we wish to acknowledge the very special contributions of the late Eve Rice to the book: her essay on Eric Hoffer, her suggestion of the title The Elusive Eden, and her constant and unstinting support.

Richard B. Rice
William A. Bullough
Richard J. Orsi
Mary Ann Irwin