About the Book

The King of California

The King of California

J.G. Boswell and the Making of a Secret American Empire
February 2005
Trade Paperback · 592 Pages
$19.99 U.S. · $23.00 CAN · £10.99 U.K. · €14.99 E.U.
ISBN 9781586482817
PublicAffairs

 

Description

J.G. Boswell was the biggest farmer in America. He built a secret empire while thumbing his nose at nature, politicians, labor unions and every journalist who ever tried to lift the veil on the ultimate "factory in the fields."  The King of California is the previously untold account of how a Georgia slave-owning family migrated to California in the early 1920s,drained one of America 's biggest lakes in an act of incredible hubris and carved out the richest cotton empire in the world. Indeed, the sophistication of Boswell 's agricultural operation -from lab to field to gin—is unrivaled anywhere.

Much more than a business story, this is a sweeping social history that details the saga of cotton growers who were chased from the South by the boll weevil and brought their black farmhands to California. It is a gripping read with cameos by a cast of famous characters, from Cecil B. DeMille to Cesar Chavez.

About the Authors

Mark Arax is a contributing writer at Los Angeles magazine and a former senior writer at the Los Angeles Times. He is the author of West of the West. Rick Wartzman is the Director of the Drucker Institute at Claremont Graduate University in California, a fellow of the New America Foundation, and the author of Obscene in the Extreme. He was formerly the business editor for the Los Angeles Times and a reporter for the Wall Street Journal.