The 10 Best California Books of 2021 – The New York Times

December 14, 2021 by No Comments

“The Contrarian: Peter Thiel and Silicon Valley’s Pursuit of Power,” by Max Chafkin

An excerpt from our review, “The Alarming Rise of Peter Thiel, Tech Mogul and Political Provocateur”:

“‘The Contrarian’ is chilling — literally chilling. As I read it, I grew colder and colder, until I found myself curled up under a blanket on a sunny day, icy and anxious. Scared people are scary, and Chafkin’s masterly evocation of his subject’s galactic fear — of liberals, of the U.S. government, of death — turns Thiel himself into a threat.”

“Everything Now: Lessons From the City-State of Los Angeles,” by Rosecrans Baldwin

An excerpt from our review, “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Los Angeles?”:

“To write the definitive book about Los Angeles would be impossible. In ‘Everything Now,’ the novelist Rosecrans Baldwin doesn’t try. And in not trying, he may have written the perfect book about Los Angeles.”

“Hollywood Eden: Electric Guitars, Fast Cars, and the Myth of the California Paradise,” by Joel Selvin

An excerpt from our review, “From Brian Wilson to Nancy Sinatra: The L.A. Music Scene in the ’60s”:

Selvin, the former pop music critic of The San Francisco Chronicle, “tells the story, set between 1957 and 1967, of a network of young Angelenos who ‘captured a California of the mind’ — one of ‘cars, sun, sex and surf; “Gidget” set to a rock ’n’ roll beat.’”

“Rock Me on the Water: 1974 — The Year Los Angeles Transformed Movies, Music, Television, and Politics,” by Ronald Brownstein

An excerpt from our review, “Why Did Los Angeles Become a Cultural Mecca in the Early 1970s?”:

“These are not new stories, of course — the brief window of early-1970s creative filmmaking, the Laurel Canyon music scene, the golden era of television. All have been relentlessly examined, artifacts of a once-mighty baby boomer civilization. What Brownstein has done is expertly knit the scenes together, giving the reader a plus-one invite to the heady world of Hollywood parties, jam sessions and pitch meetings, as well as a pointed demonstration of how culture can be …….



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