Five Fires: Race, Catastrophe, and the Shaping of California

Front Cover
Oxford University Press, 1999 - History - 304 pages
0 Reviews
In this wholly original study, cultural historian and critic David Wyatt uses the story of fire to tell the story of California. Wyatt focuses this "catastrophic history" of his native state on five events that swept through California, altering its physical and political landscape and the way both were represented in art and literature. Wyatt begins with the accidental importation and spread of the wild oat in the 1770s, a process that had its human counterpart in the Spanish invaders. He then explores the impact of four other significant events: the Gold Rush, the 1906 earthquake and fire, the post-World War II defense-industry boom, and the "fire of race" that erupted in Watts in 1965. This fifth fire, Wyatt claims, has burned all throughout California's history, and he artfully examines its effects on both the Chinese immigration experience and the internment of Japanese Americans in World War II. With an energetic style, Wyatt shows how all of these events were recorded and responded to in the works of the imagination that have shaped our collective understanding of the Golden State, from the writings of Raymond Chandler and Amy Tan, to the photography of Ansel Adams and the films of Roman Polanski.
 

What people are saying - Write a review

FIVE FIRES: Race, Catastrophe, and the Shaping of California

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

A big-picture view of California's history, told with verve and considerable learning. Wyatt, a native Californian and professor of English at the University of Maryland, ranges freely among several ... Read full review

Contents

PROLOGUE
1
CHAPTER
11
CHAPTER
50
CHAPTER THREE
78
CHAPTER FOUR
107
CHAPTER FIVE
135
CHAPTER
154
CHAPTER SEVEN
182
CHAPTER EIGHT
204
EPILOGUE
237
NOTES
243
BIBLIOGRAPHY
263
INDEX
281
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (1999)


David Wyatt is a professor of English at the University of Maryland at College Park. He is the author of The Fall into Eden: Landscape and Imagination in California and Out of the Sixties: Storytelling and the Vietnam Generation.

Bibliographic information