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Reviews for The Browns of California by Miriam Pawel


“[A] wonderful and essential book.” —The Los Angeles Times

“A vivid history of a political dynasty that has governed the Golden State for nearly a quarter century . . . The Pulitzer Prize-winning Ms. Pawel elucidates with sparkling prose and telling details . . . Ms. Pawel, with her extensive interviews, deep archival research and brilliant synthesis, has made an enormous contribution to the historical record.” —Wall Street Journal

“Pawel's narrative is unflaggingly direct, but it also functions as deep art, for the book is actually a history of California posing as a family portrait. Whether it's the Gold Rush, Japanese internment, Free Speech Movement, Watts riots, Proposition 13 or climate change, the Brown story reflects large portions of California's past and much of its present…. A skillful portrait.” —San Francisco Chronicle, "Best Books of the Year"

“Miriam Pawel's fascinating book charts four generations of the Brown family . . . Pawel bills her family saga as a 'lens through which to tell a unique history of the 31st state' but it does much more. Her engaging narrative of the politics, ideas and policies of the two Edmund Browns illuminates the sea change in the nation's politics in the last half of the 20th century.”” —New York Times Book Review

“Well-written and deeply researched . . . [A] 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.” —Starred Review, Publishers Weekly

“Pawel expertly mines family archives, oral histories, and interviews with contemporary sources to full and for the first time chronicle the origins and accomplishments of this remarkable clan…This fine and engaging political saga tracks both the Brown family and the growth of the state they have served.” —Starred Review, Booklist

“A vivid portrait of California's land and people emerges from a sympathetic family biography . . . A well-informed history of a powerful dynasty.” —Kirkus

“Pawel's illuminating history focuses on the father and son who served nearly a quarter century as California governors.” —Books to Read This Month, BBC

“Pawel's narrative is unflaggingly direct, but it also functions as deep art, for the book is actually a history of California posing as a family portrait. . . . By reminding us that a single family has produced so much of the state's leadership, Pawel's skillful portrait also raises an imminent question: What's next?” —National Book Review

“In vibrant detail, Pawel introduces us to the parts of California that mattered most to the Browns, revealing how the state forged its leading political dynasty. To bring this four-generation story together, Pawel consulted archives across the state and conducted extensive interviews with Governor Brown, his family members, and longtime associates. As a result, the Brown family story is enlivened with densely textured settings and carefully selected vignettes . . . This is not a comprehensive California history disguised as political biography. This is something new: a California panorama and an intimate family portrait captured in a single frame.” —Los Angeles Review of Books

“The book manages to capture the spirit and tenor of the 1960s and '70s and also explains how California developed its famous, iconoclastic culture, which sometimes makes it feel more like another nation than a state in the union.” —Boston Public Radio, Best Books of the Year

“Miriam Pawel's masterly, multigenerational history, The Browns of California, takes as its subject the political dimensions of the California Dream as embodied by arguably its most prominent political family . . . One of the many strengths of The Browns of California is the way Pawel projects the history of California onto the Brown family (including the political careers of Pat and Jerry Brown), lending intimacy and detail to what might have been a sweeping, superficial narrative in less capable hands . . . The Browns of California will stand as an authoritative guide to a political family and their fascinating, if confounding, home state.” —America Magazine

“Deeply researched and engagingly written.” —Commonweal Magazine

“A fascinating story of California and the family that shaped its history for over a century. It provides new insights and perspectives on the history of California. Miriam Pawel's career as a journalist/reporter and difficult-to-match scholarly credentials as a historian give her a definite assurance of style that enables her to present historical details in an enjoyable and easy-to-read prose. The major achievement of Miriam Pawel in this book is that she makes history enjoyable. It is a must-read for those interested in the history of California and its celebrated family.” —Washington Book Review

“Miriam Pawel has written a remarkable book--a generational biography of a political dynasty, ranging from the California Gold Rush to the presidency of Donald Trump. She recounts the pivotal governorship of Pat Brown and the even more significant career of his son Jerry with assured prose and a keen sense of historical context. This is the engrossing saga of complicated family at the center of American political life for the last sixty years.” —T.J. Stiles, Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for CUSTER'S TRIALS and THE FIRST TYCOON

The Browns of California is a beautifully written, exquisitely researched, and magnificent example of how history can be written as biography--and biography as history.” —David Nasaw, author of THE PATRIARCHY: THE REMARKABLE LIFE AND TURBULENT TIMES OF JOSEPH P. KENNEDY

The Browns of California is a compelling, crucial read for anyone who wants to understand the state's importance on the world stage, at a time that matters more than ever. It's a fascinating history that also humanizes the enigmatic Jerry Brown, a morally courageous politician who got his start in the anti-Vietnam War movement and has become a major voice on the urgency of the nuclear threat and a leader--governing a state that is the world's sixth largest economy--in curbing the other existential threat to civilization, climate change.” —Daniel Ellsberg, author of THE DOOMSDAY MACHINE

“Miriam Pawel's multigenerational portrait of the quirky, contentious, and complicated Brown family captures the sprawling history of California as well as its often self-deluding mythology. As fascinating as the state, this book is essential for anyone who wants to understand modern California.” —Richard White, Margaret Byrne Professor of American History, Stanford University

“Miriam Pawel did it again. After her wonderful biography of Cesar Chávez, she masterfully writes about the influence of the Brown family in the transformation of California for more than a century. Pat and Jerry Brown, both, became governors. But theirs is not your typical political family. The letters and exchanges between Jerry, the seminarian, and Pat, the governor, are fascinating, insightful and provocative. This book wisely demonstrates that in California you can shape your own future and that second chances are real . . . if your family is behind you. The Browns of California is an essential book to understand how the United States is a country in perpetual creation.” —Jorge Ramos, Univision news anchor

The Browns of California: The Family Dynasty that Transformed a State and Shaped a Nation Cover Image
ISBN: 9781632867346
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing - October 15th, 2019