Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Publishers Weekly gives my book a starred review

 Napa at Last Light: America’s Eden in an Age of Calamity

James Conaway. Simon & Schuster, $26 (288p) ISBN 978-1-5011-2845-5

In this fascinating and well-researched book, Conaway delivers an unpleasant portrait of California’s Napa Valley in the 21st century. Conaway knows his subject well, having written two previous narratives chronicling the valley’s metamorphosis over the decades (including Napa: The Story of an American Eden). Several sections of the book explore “specific struggles similar to those all over the country but heightened by Napa’s fame and outsized concentrations of wealth and notoriety.” The 1960s through the ’80s were a golden age for Napa. Newcomers filled with idealism flocked to the valley wanting to learn the art of wine making, all the while respecting sound conservation principles. But once big money arrived, personal bonds among the community members began disintegrating and land-zoning and water-use issues divided Napa residents. Once a mainly mixed-agriculture region that also happened to produce wine, Napa morphed into an oenophile Disneyland, according to Conaway, where new-millionaire winemakers have little regard for the natural environment or quality of life for longtime valley residents. This is a stunning and sad look at how an idyllic community (which has recently been ravaged by fire) became a victim of its own success. (Feb.)Reviewed on 10/27/2017

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