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Everett Ruess was twenty years old when he vanished into the canyonlands of southern Utah, spawning the myth of a romantic desert wanderer that survives to this day. It was 1934, and Ruess was in the fifth year of a quest to record wilderness beauty in works of art whose value was recognized by such contemporary artists as Dorothea Lange, Ansel Adams, and Edward Weston. From his home in Los Angeles, Ruess walked, hitchhiked, and rode burros up the California coast, along the crest of the Sierra Nevada, and into the deserts of the Southwest. In the first probing biography of Everett Ruess, acclaimed environmental historian Philip L. Fradkin goes beyond the myth to reveal the realities of Ruess's short life and mysterious death and finds in the artist's astonishing afterlife a lonely hero who persevered.
A gripping history of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fires, now with a new preface discussing how the 1906 earthquake compares to Hurricane Katrina.
Philip L. Fradkin, one of California's most acclaimed environmental historians, felt drawn to the coast as soon as he arrived in California in 1960. His first book, California: The Golden Coast, captured the wonder of the shoreline's natural beauty along with the controversies it engendered. In The Left Coast, the author and his photographer son Alex Fradkin revisit some of the same places they explored together in the early 1970s. From their written and visual approaches, this father-son team brings a unique generational perspective to the subject. Mixing history, geography, interviews, personal experiences, and photographs, they find a wealth of stories and memorable sights in the multiplicity of landscapes, defined by them as the Wild, Agricultural, Residential, Tourist, Recreational, Industrial, Military, and Political coasts. Alex Fradkin's expressive photographs add a layer of meaning, enriching the subject with their distinctive eloquence while bringing a visual dimension to his father's words. In this way, the book becomes the story of a close relationship within a probing study of a varied and contested coastline.
Sweeping in scope, as revealing of an era as it is of a company, Stagecoach is the epic story of Wells Fargo and the American West, by award-winning writer Philip L. Fradkin. The trail of Wells Fargo runs through nearly every imaginable landscape and icon of frontier folklore: the California Gold Rush, the Pony Express, the transcontinental railroad, the Civil and Indian Wars. From the Great Plains to the Rockies to the Pacific Ocean, the company's operations embraced almost all social, cultural, and economic activities west of the Mississippi, following one of the greatest migrations in American history. Fortune seekers arriving in California after the discovery of gold in 1849 couldn't bring the necessities of home with them. So Wells Fargo express offices began providing basic services such as the exchange of gold dust for coin, short-term deposits and loans, and reliable delivery and receipt of letters, money, and goods to and from distant places. As its reputation for speed and dependability grew, the sight of a red-and-yellow Wells Fargo stagecoach racing across the prairie came to symbolize not only safe passage but faith in a nation's progress. In fact, for a time Wells Fargo was the most powerful and widespread institution in the American West, even surpassing the presence of the federal government. Stagecoach is a fascinating and rare combination of Western and business history. Along with its colorful association with the frontier -- Wyatt Earp, Black Bart, Buffalo Bill -- readers will discover that swiftness, security, and connectivity have been constants in Wells Fargo's history, and that these themes remain just as important today, 150 years later.
Stegner's Angle of Repose and The Spectator Bird were just two of his masterpieces. His others include passionate pleas for the preservation of wildness and the retreat of concrete as he watched Silicon Valley stretch from horizon to horizon. Distinguished journalist Fradkin closely follows Stegner's hard years as a youngster in both the coldest and hottest locales of the West, the beginnings of his career at the U. of Iowa during the Depression, his founding and development of the Stanford Creative Writing Program, his mentorship of such writers as Ken Kesey and Edward Abbey, and his fight against charges of plagiarism despite his Pulitzer for Angle of Repose. The result is a clear assessment of how much locale can be built inside a human being. Annotation ©2008 Book News, Inc. , Portland, OR (booknews. com)
Twenty-five years ago Philip L. Fradkin read a book about a remote bay on the Gulf of Alaska coast. The noted environmental historian was attracted by the threads of violence woven through the natural and human histories of Lituya Bay. Could these histories be related, and if so, how? The attempt to define the power of this wild place was a tantalizing and, as it turned out, dangerous quest. This compelling and eerie memoir tells of Fradkin's odyssey through recorded human history and eventually to the bay itself, as he explores the dark and unyielding side of nature. Natural forces have always dominated Lituya Bay. Immense storms, powerful earthquakes, huge landslides, and giant waves higher than the world's tallest skyscrapers pound the whale-shaped fjord. Compelling for its deadly beauty, the bay has attracted visitors over time, but it has never been mastered by them. Its seasonal occupants throughout recorded history--Tlingit Indians, European explorers, gold miners, and coastal fishermen seeking a harbor of refuge--have drowned, gone mad, slaughtered fur-bearing animals with abandon, sifted the black sand beaches for minute particles of gold, and murdered each other. Only a hermit found peace there. Then the author and his small son visited the bay and were haunted by a grizzly bear. As an environmental writer for the Los Angeles Times and western editor of Audubon magazine, Fradkin has traveled from Tierra del Fuego to the North Slope of Alaska. But nothing prepared him for Lituya Bay, a place so powerful it turned one person's hair white. This story resonates with echoes of Melville, Poe, and Conrad as it weaves together the human and natural histories of a beautiful and wild place.