The broad and varied history of California permits the ongoing production of both scholarly and popular works in the field. Well written, accurate popular history performs major functions in awakening interest in the study of history and often this interest leads to more serious study. Poorly written, inaccurate popular history, however, merely contributes to confusion and engenders cynical remarks regarding history as a discipline.
Unfortunately the book reviewed herein falls into this latter category. As a means of telling the general story of California’s past, the author has used an early settler, Francisco Lugo, and his descendants as a vehicle, recounting the family history as well as that of the area from 1521 to 1860. In itself, such method is quite acceptable; however, when the number of errors in simple historical fact, the spelling of names and basic interpretation, coupled with undocumented invention, reaches the level that it has in this book, clearly no contribution of any kind is made. A complete absence of notes and a very limited bibliography of secondary works reflect further the inadequacy of this work. Lugo, sadly, can only be recommended as an example of what popular history should not be.