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The Left Coast: California on the Edge

Art / PhotobookOut of Print

By: Philip L Fradkin(Author), Alex L Fradkin(Illustrator)

232 pages, colour photos, 1 b/w map

University of California Press

Paperback | Jun 2011 | #189836 | ISBN-13: 9780520255098
Out of Print Details

About this book

Philip L. Fradkin, one of California's most acclaimed environmental historians, felt drawn to the coast as soon as he arrived in California in 1960. His first book, California: The Golden Coast, captured the wonder of the shoreline's natural beauty along with the controversies it engendered. In The Left Coast, the author and his photographer son Alex Fradkin revisit some of the same places they explored together in the early 1970s. From their written and visual approaches, this father-son team brings a unique generational perspective to the subject.

Mixing history, geography, interviews, personal experiences, and photographs, they find a wealth of stories and memorable sights in the multiplicity of landscapes, defined by them as the Wild, Agricultural, Residential, Tourist, Recreational, Industrial, Military, and Political coasts. Alex Fradkin's expressive photographs add a layer of meaning, enriching the subject with their distinctive eloquence while bringing a visual dimension to his father's words. In this way, The Left Coast becomes the story of a close relationship within a probing study of a varied and contested coastline.

"This handsome book includes dozens of color plates of California's famous beaches [...] [The] photographs are technically superb, lyrical, and often haunting."
San Francisco Book Review

"Fradkin has added to his terrific body of work on western environmental topics, this time working with his photographer son to explore diverse cultural and ecological coastal settings within California."
– H-Net Reviews

"If you are interested in coastal matters, this book may be of interest."
The Californian

"An endearing but honest look at California's coast [...] The Left Coast is well-illustrated, thoughtful, and detailed enough to serve as a guidebook."
North County Times

"Historian Fradkin intertwines history, geology, memories, and anecdotes in flowing, poetic text that meanders through time. Photographer Fradkin presents photographs in both color and black-and-white, with subjects that clearly demonstrate the many qualities of the coast as well as its people, from the enormous Santa Monica Pier to an old-growth redwood forest."
Publishers Weekly

"It is, at once, a memoir, a work of investigative journalism, and a portfolio of fine art, all of which is sharply focused on the California shoreline [...] At some moments, and in many ways, the Fradkins' beautiful book reminds me of a great and enduring masterpiece, California and the West, which combines the photographs of Edward Weston and the prose of his young wife, Charis Wilson. Indeed, the two books belong on the same shelf as the alpha and omega of the ongoing effort of writers and artists to capture the California experience. And I can bestow no greater praise than that."
Jewish Journal

"The small Project Space cannot do justice to the scale of this subject but it provides a good introduction. Hopefully this body of work will go on tour to major venues on the coast."

"The author wields a pen, memories of the past, and keen interviewing skills, while the artist presents breathtaking color photographs that capture the coast's magic [...] Visitors to the Golden State could easily skip conventional guidebooks and keep The Left Coast handy for a thorough and engaging tour."
– Foreword

"It's not often that stunning photographs and powerful writing come together with equal force, but that is exactly what happens with The Left Coast. The team of Fradkin and Fradkin has created a book that shares their distinct visions of the California coast. Their collaboration forms a compelling journey equally strong in words and images."
– Mark Klett, School of Art, Arizona State University

"Early last century, writer-photographer J. Smeaton Chase and literary landscapist Mary Austin made pilgrimages along the pristine shores of California. A father-son team now makes the same journey with notebook and camera to document what a century of development has wrought. The result is a fascinating and unique portrayal of the California coast."
– Kevin Starr, University of Southern California

"These photos are beautiful, surprising and thoughtful. By visualizing the coast as a whole, this book helps us think bioregionally, and such large-scale thinking will, hopefully contribute to the coast's preservation."
– Robert Dawson, co-author of The Great Central Valley: California's Heartland



Coastal Memories
The Wild Coast
The Agricultural Coast
The Residential Coast
The Tourist Coast
The Recreational Coast
The Industrial Coast
The Military Coast
The Political Coast

Photographer’s Afterword

Suggested Reading

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Philip L. Fradkin is the author of eleven books, including A River No More, The Seven States of California, Magnitude 8, Wildest Alaska, The Great Earthquake and Firestorms of 1906, and Wallace Stegner and the American West, all available from UC Press.

Alex Fradkin is a fine art photographer whose work has been widely exhibited and is held in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Photography, and the Portland Art Museum. His work also appears regularly in print and online publications around the world.

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