Thursday, October 30, 2008

Gustavo, Carey, and Orange County


A couple of weeks ago, I heard Gustavo Arellano on KPFA talking about his new book, Orange County: A Personal History. I'm a fan, so I put that on my list of books to read after I finished my Ramparts research.

But today I received a McWilliams alert from Frank Barajas, my friend in the history department at Cal State Channel Islands. He told me that Gustavo's new book had some material on Carey McWilliams and even a quote from me. Extraordinary.

I already knew that Gustavo wrote a piece about McWilliams and Orange County's citrus strikes in the 1930s. That story, which appeared in the OC Weekly in 2006, was about how thoroughly the county's labor strife had been scrubbed out of its official history. Back in the day, McWilliams defended some of the striking workers and quickly realized how screwed they were. Their plight was all the more striking to him because it clashed with the county's idyllic image.

After hearing from Frank, I decided to swing into action--without leaving my desk, of course. I was able to pinpoint the relevant passage, courtesy of our friends at Google. It runs a full six paragraphs and mentions American Prophet as well as an interview Gustavo conducted with me two years ago.

On behalf of McWilliams aficionados everywhere, I say muchas gracias, Gustavo. And thanks to Frank for pointing it out.

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