All students of California quickly realize that the state's size and attending geographic, economic, racial, and social diversity make it difficult to discipline into a single narrative. The distinct urban centers of San Francisco and Los Angeles and industrial agriculture in the Central Valley and Imperial Valley, not to mention regional, national, and transnational connections, contribute to making the fractious state a difficult subject. Sine examines Depression-era California with impressive nuance, rigor, and review of primary sources. The resulting book is an interwoven kaleidoscope of life, politics, art, economics, and rebellion during 1930s California that the author interlinks through the concept of surrealism.

Sine addresses current depictions of New Deal policies as both offering “unprecedented concessions to working people” and “secur[ing] capitalism by consolidating racial and gender-based subordination” (5). Her examination reveals that these results were not certain or preordained. Popular resistance and organizing created potential for radical political visions...

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