American Exodus: The Dust Bowl Migration and Okie Culture in California

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9780195044232: American Exodus: The Dust Bowl Migration and Okie Culture in California
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This is the story of the more than one million Oklahomans, Arkansans, Texans, and Misourians who settled in California during the economically depressed 1930s and the war-boom 1940s. Not just a conventional account of hardship and economic recovery, this is a finely screened cultural exploration that brings to light the migrants' impact on California's political, religious, and recreational institutions.

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Review:

An important and readable book about one of the significant episodes of the Great Depression. The story is told from multiple points of view and illustrated with a number of striking pictures (some of them not often seen. This book would be useful in a number of different kinds of courses.)

...a profoundly impressive book....American Exodus is a major contribution to our understanding of regional, cultural, and political history in the United States. It deserves the widest possible readership. (Bill C. Malone, The Journal of Southern History _)

[A] stunning book....The impressive range of source material, from government documents to graffiti to country music to cliometrics is fashioned and reshaped to form a vivid yet subtle portrait of generation of Americans on the move....A masterpiece of reflection, imagination and research, a book that advances our historical understanding, with a narrative skillfully and vividly told. In sum, a testimony to what the historical profession and history are presumed to be about. (OAH Ray Allen Billington Prize Committee)

We have had many other essays and books on the Okie migrants who entered California in the 1930s, but no one has done so comprehensive and masterful a job of telling their history as James Gregory. He has uncovered a vast literature on these people, including their own newspapers and poetry, and he has derived from it a convincing portrait of both their strengths and weaknesses. Best of all, he succeeds in giving them their due. They are, as he reveals, a major 20th-century American subculture, with roots in the Old Southwest and a life that has endured beyond the thirties down to our own time. The Okies must be reckoned with, and this book must be read to understand [them]. (Donald E. Worster, University of Kansas)

American Exodus takes us beyond the Dorothea Lange photographs and the Hollywood stereotypes to the heart of that complex story of a plain folk culture transplanted across a continent in the midst of the great depression. In John Steinbeck, the Okie's found their novelist; in Jim Gregory they have found their historian. (Dan T. Carter, Emory University)

Clearly the best book that has been written about the Okies. (Roger Daniels, University of Cincinnati)

[A] remarkable book....Gregory has a fine ear for music and a fine eye for quotation, and combines these with vigorous social analysis. American Exodus is a fine achievement. (Otis L. Graham, Jr., University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)

It will fit in well with my 20th-century California class. (Kathy Olmsted, University of California, Davis)

Synopsis:

Memorialized in John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath", the Dustbowl migration plays an important part in the collective memory of the Great Depression in America. This is the story of the more than one million Oklahomans, Arkansans, Texans, and Missourians who settled in California during the economically depressed 1930s and the war-boom 1940s. Not just a conventional account of hardship and economic recovery, this is finely screened cultural exploration that brings to light the migrant's impact on California's political, religious, and recreational institutions. It argues that Southwesteners forged an "Okie subculture" that over the years has become an important element in California's cultural landscape.

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9780195071368: American Exodus: The Dust Bowl Migration and Okie Culture in California

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ISBN 10: 0195071360 ISBN 13: 9780195071368
Publisher: Oxford University Press, U.S.A., 1991
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