J.G. Boswell and the Making of A Secret American Empire
Author: Mark Arax
Publisher: Hachette UK
J.G. Boswell was the biggest farmer in America. He built a secret empire while thumbing his nose at nature, politicians, labor unions and every journalist who ever tried to lift the veil on the ultimate "factory in the fields." The King of California is the previously untold account of how a Georgia slave-owning family migrated to California in the early 1920s,drained one of America 's biggest lakes in an act of incredible hubris and carved out the richest cotton empire in the world. Indeed, the sophistication of Boswell 's agricultural operation -from lab to field to gin - is unrivaled anywhere. Much more than a business story, this is a sweeping social history that details the saga of cotton growers who were chased from the South by the boll weevil and brought their black farmhands to California. It is a gripping read with cameos by a cast of famous characters, from Cecil B. DeMille to Cesar Chavez.
From R. Barri Flowers, award-winning criminologist and the bestselling author of Murderess on the Loose, Murder of the Doctor’s Wife, Murder at the Pencil Factory, and The Sex Slave Murders, comes the gripping historical true crime short, Murdered by the King of Western Swing: The Beating Death of Ella Mae Cooley in 1961. On Monday, April 3, 1961, thirty-eight-year-old former vocalist Ella Mae Cooley was beaten to death in her home in Willow Springs, an unincorporated area located in Kern County, California. The cruelty of the crime was shocking to local residents in the normally idyllic community. A greater shock was that the murder was committed by the victim’s fifty-year-old husband, Donnell Clyde Cooley, a well-known big band leader, musician, actor, host of a television variety show, and businessman. Ella Mae and Donnell Clyde, who generally went by the name Spade Cooley, were both struggling with accusations of unfaithfulness in their marriage that had produced two children. They were in the midst of a divorce when tragedy struck. Cooley snapped in deciding to end the marriage prematurely by murdering his wife The horrific assault was witnessed by the couple’s fourteen-year-old daughter, Melody, who would testify against her father at his trial. In spite of her untimely presence at the crime scene, Cooley sought to attribute Ella Mae’s death to an accident. This fell flat, as did a short-lived attempt to plead insanity in the death of his wife. Spade Cooley would be convicted of murder and sent to prison for his heinous act of criminality, forever casting a shadow over a successful career in Western swing music and television. See how this tragic story of celebrity, suspicion, and homicidal rage unfolds in the historical crime of passion. Included is a complete bonus historical short tale, The Gold Special Train Robbery: Deadly Crimes of the D’Autremont Brothers, as well as excerpts from the author’s bestselling true crime book, Serial Killer Couples; the riveting historical true crime short, Murder of the Banker's Daughter: The Killing of Marion Parker; and the gripping historical true crime tale, Mass Murder in the Sky: The Bombing of Flight 629.
A vivid, searching journey into California's capture of water and soil--an epic story of a people's defiance of nature and the wonders, and ruin, it has wrought "A stunning history of power, arrogance, and greed."--Kirkus Reviews (starred) Mark Arax is from a family of Central Valley farmers, a writer with deep ties to the land who has watched the battles over water intensify even as California lurches from drought to flood and back again. In The Dreamt Land, he travels the state to explore the one-of-a-kind distribution system, built in the 1940s, '50s and '60s, that is straining to keep up with California's relentless growth. This is a heartfelt, beautifully written book about the land and the people who have worked it--from gold miners to wheat ranchers to small fruit farmers and today's Big Ag. Since the beginning, Californians have redirected rivers, drilled ever-deeper wells and built higher dams, pushing the water supply past its limit. The Dreamt Land weaves reportage, history and memoir to confront the "Golden State" myth in riveting fashion. No other chronicler of the West has so deeply delved into the empires of agriculture that drink so much of the water. The nation's biggest farmers--the nut king, grape king and citrus queen--tell their story here for the first time. This is a tale of politics and hubris in the arid West, of imported workers left behind in the sun and the fatigued earth that is made to give more even while it keeps sinking. But when drought turns to flood once again, all is forgotten as the farmers plant more nuts and the developers build more houses. Arax, the native son, is persistent and tough as he treks from desert to delta, mountain to valley. What he finds is hard earned, awe-inspiring, tragic and revelatory. In the end, his compassion for the land becomes an elegy to the dream that created California and now threatens to undo it.
When John Muir traveled to California in 1868, he found the pristine mountain ranges that would inspire his life’s work. The Mountains of California is the culmination of the ten years Muir spent in the Sierra Nevadas, studying every crag, crook, and valley with great care and contemplation. Bill McKibben writes in his Introduction that Muir "invents, by sheer force of his love, an entirely new vocabulary and grammar of the wild . . . a language of ecstasy and exuberance." The Mountains of California is as vibrant and vital today as when it was written over a century ago. This Modern Library Paperback Classic includes the photographs and line drawings from the original 1898 edition.
Presents the life and accomplishments of the celebrated basketball player, who won eleven NBA championships, and who was the first African American to coach in the NBA and to be elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.