california

Mark Arax is from a Californian 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. The book is 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.

Mark Arax is an author and journalist whose writings on California and the West have received numerous awards for literary nonfiction. A former staffer at the Los Angeles Times, his work has appeared in The New York Times and the California Sunday Magazine. His books include a memoir of his father’s murder, a collection of essays about the West, and the best-selling "The King of California," which won a California Book Award, the William Saroyan Prize from Stanford University, and was named a top book of 2004 by the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle.

David K. Randall is a senior reporter at Reuters and The New York Times best-selling author of "Dreamland" and "The King and Queen of Malibu."

For Chinese immigrant Wong Chut King, surviving in San Francisco meant a life in the shadows. His passing on March 6, 1900, would have been unremarkable if a city health officer hadn’t noticed a swollen black lymph node on his groin: a sign of bubonic plague.

Empowered by racist pseudoscience, officials rushed to quarantine Chinatown while doctors examined Wong’s tissue for telltale bacteria. If the devastating disease was not contained, San Francisco would become the American epicenter of an outbreak that had already claimed ten million lives worldwide.

In "Black Death at the Golden Gate: The Race to Save America from the Bubonic Plague," Randall shares this little known story of an avoided epidemic.

Richard Powers spent a year under the redwoods of California. That reflection led to his novel, "The Overstory," about the world of trees and a band of people determined to change the way it’s perceived.

“The Overstory” won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and we will re-air our interview with Powers on this week’s Book Show.

This program features a clip of the audiobook of “The Overstory” presented by Recorded Books and RB Digital. Used with permission.

Modfest, Vassar College’s annual exploration of the arts of the 20th and 21st centuries, celebrates its 17th season with the theme, “In Motion.” Assorted arts events take place through February 10th and include a panel discussion and concert by Ensemble Mik Nawooj on Saturday, February 9. The 4 p.m. Panel Discussion: Method Sampling and a New Aesthetic will take place at Skinner Hall on the Vassar Campus, and the 8 p.m. concert will be performed at the Trolley Barn in downtown Poughkeepsie, New York.

Oakland based Ensemble Mik Nawooj is led by composer/pianist, JooWan Kim. EMN creates Meta Music by sampling principles of Hip-Hop and Classical music. The ensemble features MC/lyricists Do D.A.T. and Sandman along with a lyric soprano, flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, drums and bass.

Composer and pianist JooWan Kim began his formal training in composition at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. He graduated Summa Cum Laude with a B.M. in composition in 2003. He continued his education in composition at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, from which he received a M.M. in 2006. JooWan founded Ensemble Mik Nawooj in 2010.

  Jackie Speier was twenty-eight when she joined Congressman Leo Ryan’s delegation to rescue defectors from cult leader Jim Jones’s Peoples Temple in Jonestown, Guyana. Ryan was killed on the airstrip tarmac. Jackie was shot five times at point-blank range. While recovering from what would become one of the most harrowing tragedies in recent history, Jackie had to choose: Would she become a victim or a fighter? The choice to survive against unfathomable odds empowered her with a resolve to become a vocal proponent for human rights.

From the formative nightmare that radically molded her perspective and instincts to the devastating personal and professional challenges that would follow, "Undaunted" reveals the perseverance of a determined force in American politics.

Dr. Alan Chartock
Eric Korenman

WAMC's Dr. Alan Chartock shares his thoughts on President Donald Trump's remarks regarding Saudi Arabia. Dr. Chartock also discusses the Camp fire in California.

Bob Spitz has been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Rolling Stone, Esquire, and Life. In his career in the music business he has represented the careers of everyone from the Partridge family to Bruce Springsteen to Elton John. He is the author of seven books including a biography on The Beatles as well as Dearie, the best-selling biography on Julia Child.

His latest book is, "Reagan: An American Journey". And Joining us today is Bob Spitz.

Live Music @ Opalka presents John Vanderslice on Saturday, September 29 at 8 p.m. Located on the Sage College of Albany campus, the live-acoustic set is part of Vanderslice's Living Room Tour, a house and small venue tour that the California-based musician is on this late summer into the fall. The tour is facilitated by Undertow Music.

Vanderslice is a singer-songwriter, record producer, and recording engineer and is the owner and founder of Tiny Telephone, an analog recording studio with locations in San Francisco Mission District and North Oakland.

Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Miriam Pawel’s new book: “The Browns of California: The Family Dynasty that Transformed a State and Shaped a Nation,” is a panoramic history of California and its impact on the nation told through the lens of the family dynasty that led the state for nearly a quarter century.

In Anne Makepeace’s new documentary, two Native American judges reach back to traditional concepts of justice in order to reduce incarceration rates, foster greater safety for their communities, and create a more positive future for their youth. By addressing the root causes of crime, they are providing models of restorative justice that are working. Mainstream courts across the country are taking notice.

The film will screen at The Moviehouse in Millerton, NY on Sunday, March 26 at 11 a.m. The screening is presented by FilmWorks Forum.

Anne Makepeace has been a writer, producer, and director of award-winning independent films for more three decades. Tribal Justice, will premiere at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival in February 2017, and will culminate in a national PBS broadcast later this year.

As a founding member of The Beach Boys, Mike Love has spent an extraordinary fifty-five years, and counting, as the group's lead singer and one of its principal lyricists.

The Beach Boys, from their California roots to their international fame, are a unique American story -- one of overnight success and age-defying longevity; of musical genius and reckless self-destruction; of spirituality, betrayal, and forgiveness -- and Love is the only band member to be part of it each and every step.

Love’s story has never been fully told, of how a sheet-metal apprentice became the quintessential front man for America's most successful rock band, singing in more than 5,600 concerts in 26 countries. He writes about it all in his new memoir: Good Vibrations: My Life as a Beach Boy. 

The Malibu coast on the pacific coast highway that traces at our American icons, Malibu’s sparkling blue waters and striking cliffs have attracted Hollywood stars and carefree surfers alike with the promise of sun drenched days and endless summers. But few people know the story of how Malibu came to be established as a California paradise. In the new book The King and Queen of Malibu: The True Battle for Paradise, reporter and bestselling author David Randall Uncovers a tale of money, power, deceit, desperation and ultimately the modernization of the golden state itself. 

  Eternity Street tells the story of a violent place in a violent time: the rise of Los Angeles from its origins as a small Mexican pueblo. In his narrative, John Mack Faragher relates a dramatic history of conquest and ethnic suppression, of collective disorder and interpersonal conflict. Eternity Street recounts the struggle to achieve justice amid the turmoil of a loosely governed frontier, and it delivers a piercing look at the birth of this quintessentially American city. 

John Mack Faragher is the Howard R. Lamar Professor of History and American Studies at Yale University. He is the author of many books on the American frontier, including Daniel Boone: The Life and Legend of an American Pioneer, which received a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and, most recently, A Great and Noble Scheme.

4/6/15 Panel

Apr 6, 2015

  The Roundtable Panel: a daily open discussion of issues in the news and beyond.

Today's panelists are WAMC's Alan Chartock, SUNY Albany Journalism Professor and Investigative Professor, Rosemary Armao, and political consultant, Libby Post.

Scheduled topics include Rolling Stone retracts rape story; President Obama makes his case for Iran Nuclear Deal; Chinese women's rights activists arrested; and California drought.

1/29/15 Panel

Jan 29, 2015

  The Roundtable Panel: a daily open discussion of issues in the news and beyond.

Today's panelists are WAMC’s Alan Chartock, University at Albany Journalism Professor and Investigative Reporter, Rosemary Armao, and WAMC Newsman, Ray Graf.

Topics include an update on Sheldon Silver, California school bans students without vaccinations, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's scheduled speech to the U.S. Congress, Attorney general nominee Loretta E. Lynch, and Biofuels.

    California now has more trees than at any time since the late Pleistocene. This green landscape, however, is not the work of nature. It’s the work of history.

Jared Farmer's book, Trees in Paradise offers an insightful, new perspective on the history of the Golden State and the American West.

Jared Farmer, a Utah native and former Californian, is the author of On Zion’s Mount, a landscape history awarded the prestigious Parkman Prize for literary excellence. He teaches history at Stony Brook University and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

    An innovative landmark a quarter century in the making, the new eastern span of the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge represents the latest spectacular chapter in the history of this storied structure.

The new bridge's architect, Donald MacDonald, joins us to talk about the bridge and the book, Bay Bridge: History and Design of a New Icon. With friendly text and charming illustrations, Bay Bridge reveals the design decisions that have shaped the evolution of the bridge over the last century—from the history of the original bridge, through the planning of the new span, to the construction of its signature 525-foot-high white tower.