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California in the 1930s

by David Kipen Federal Writers Project of the Works Progress Administration

Alive with the exuberance, contradictions, and variety of the Golden State, this Depression-era guide to California is more than 700 pages of information that is, as David Kipen writes in his spirited introduction, "anecdotal, opinionated, and altogether habit-forming." Describing the history, culture, and roadside attractions of the 1930s, the WPA Guide to California features some of the very best anonymous literature of its era, with writing by luminaries such as San Francisco poet Kenneth Rexroth, composer-writer- hobo Harry Partch, and authors Tillie Olsen and Kenneth Patchen.

San Diego in the 1930s

by Federal Writers Project of the Works Progress Administration David Kipen

San Diego in the 1930s offers a lively account of the city's culture, roadside attractions, and history--from the days of the Spanish missions to the pre-Second World War boom. The guide is revealing both in the opinions it embodies and in the juicy details it records--tidbits such as the bloodiest and most incompetently fought battle of the Mexican-American War, Emma Goldman's abruptly terminated speech to local Wobblies in 1912, and even a delightfully anachronistic way to beat a San Diego speeding ticket. Brimming with tours that can prove challenging to retrace, this book reminds us of the changes wrought by seven decades of intervening war, peace, and biotechnology. Unlatching a remarkable trapdoor into the past, this compact and charming document of the Depression era invites repeated browsing and is generously illustrated with striking black-and-white photographs that bring the period to life.

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