Official Review: California: On the Edge of American Hist...

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BookishCreature
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Official Review: California: On the Edge of American Hist...

Post by BookishCreature » 23 Feb 2018, 15:09

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "California: On the Edge of American History" by Ronald Genini.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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[Note: This review is based on the Kindle edition of the book. The publisher has reported that the formatting issues are not present in the print edition of the book.]

The great state of California is the third-largest state in the US, and its storied past is just as big and bold as its geography. Ronald Genini’s California: On the Edge of American History takes on the Herculean task of putting together a comprehensive history of the state, from prehistory to the present and every era, war, and conquest in between.

I have to start off by saying that the copy I received of this book is absolutely riddled with formatting errors. Words in the middle of the page were hyphenated and had extra spaces within them. The margins would occasionally balloon out to take up half the page, leaving the text running down a skinny column on one side. There were random line breaks and page breaks, missing or poorly-formatted pictures, captions that couldn’t decide if they wanted to be uppercase or lowercase… in short, it was an absolute mess. Now, this is not necessarily the author’s fault, but it definitely should have been corrected by someone on his publishing team.

Setting that gripe aside, though, I found that there was a lot to like about this book. Genini writes in a very light and easy tone – not exactly conversational, but still extremely readable. He’s obviously done an incredible amount of research, since the chapters are full to bursting with interesting anecdotes, primary sources, and enough detail to make any history buff giddy.

Those details are delivered in a very dense package. Not ‘dense’ as in hard to understand, but ‘dense’ as in extraordinarily efficient at packing information down into the smallest possible word count. After all, Genini had to fit centuries of history into just 600 pages (only 500 if you don’t count the footnotes and references). In a word, this book is chewy – in a good way.

This is the kind of book that will appeal to very specific readers. It’s a comprehensive history, which means it’s kind of an aerial flyby – Google Earth, not Google Street View. If you enjoy that top-level approach to history, by all means pick this book up. If you prefer more detailed explorations of smaller topics, you may be disappointed.

In addition, this is not the kind of book for visual learners. I often found myself wishing for a map, a timeline – anything to help me make sense of the streams of dates and locations. This comes down to personal preference, of course, and isn’t a mark against the book. If you’re good at visualizing and parsing stuff like this, you should be just fine.

I struggled for a while with how to rate this book. My gut feeling is to take away two stars because the formatting was just murder on the eyes, but again, that’s not necessarily the author’s fault. Instead, I’m going to give it the benefit of the doubt and rate the book 3 out of 4 stars, with the caveat that you should probably make sure you’re getting a clean copy when you purchase it. This book may not appeal to everyone, but hardcore history buffs will surely be thrilled.

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Editor's Note: The book available for sale has been updated to correct the formatting issues noted by the reviewer.
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California: On the Edge of American History
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Emilia1892
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Post by Emilia1892 » 04 Mar 2018, 01:01

I like it! Very interesting:) thanks for review

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Post by Katerina Katapodi » 04 Mar 2018, 06:25

The book ''California'' of Genini, is a very interesting serious book of History, focusing on California. It already has 500 pages, along with 100 pages, thus 600 pages all together, that refer to American history of all eras, since foundation of State of USA, and its Constitution on basis of which official State of USA was created and founded, focusing on California, the third biggest State of USA.
The book is read pleasantly, has a ton of discriptions and dates of history of course, a really descriptive book, that noone will ever get bored to read it.
The style is that of conversational one, with variety of content, that reader will definitely ''suck'' and will be informed accordingly. Anyone could read this book, with many elements of USA history, and mainly of California, and will get the appropriate information from it.
I give 3 of 4 Stars to this book, and suggest it to everyone, mainly whose who are interested in History, as field of science.

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Post by kandscreeley » 05 Mar 2018, 09:08

I should take more of an interest in history, but I am not really that into California. I would more be tempted to look at the United States as a whole or the world as a whole. Thanks for the review, though. It's really weird that it's so horribly formatted for the e-book version, but the print version is okay.
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Post by kislany » 05 Mar 2018, 11:09

I saw this book on my dashboard and was about to grab it when I saw that it was some 600-700 pages long and the request was to read and review it within 72 hours, which was something impossible for me to do. I was sad to have to move on. However, reading your review now, I'm not so sorry anymore. I can't stand books with lots of grammatical errors which detract from the enjoyment of reading. The topic is an interesting one, however. Great review.

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Post by Vickie Noel » 05 Mar 2018, 12:09

kislany wrote:
05 Mar 2018, 11:09
I saw this book on my dashboard and was about to grab it when I saw that it was some 600-700 pages long and the request was to read and review it within 72 hours, which was something impossible for me to do. I was sad to have to move on. However, reading your review now, I'm not so sorry anymore. I can't stand books with lots of grammatical errors which detract from the enjoyment of reading. The topic is an interesting one, however. Great review.
The exact same thing hindered me from picking up the book as well. I too, have recently read a book riddled with errors and I certainly am not keen to go down that path again. I also prefer historical fiction to hard-core history, especially the type that are "aerial fly-by's" as you say. Thanks for the revealing review.
Stop waiting for what you WANT, start working with what you HAVE. --- Seth Cain

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Post by prettysmart » 05 Mar 2018, 14:13

I usually find history boring but your stimulating review makes me want to investigate it!

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Post by melissy370 » 05 Mar 2018, 15:10

I love history. Not sure if I would enjoy California history though. I'll check it out and see how it is.

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Post by BookishCreature » 06 Mar 2018, 15:19

Thank you guys for the comments! Yeah, that review deadline was kind of nuts but I'm really happy I managed it. :)

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Post by Jkhorner » 07 Mar 2018, 10:42

I love your reviews! You have a colorful way of helping me understand exactly what you thought of the book, yet you seem unbiased. I especially loved the "Google Earth, not Google Street View" description. As for the book, it certainly sounds like a lot to cram into 600 pages, but pleasant enough for a history book. Thanks for reading!

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Post by CommMayo » 07 Mar 2018, 15:35

I was wondering who was going to finally tackle this "chewy" book. Seems like it would have been more worth it for the author to just mail you a hardcopy of the book.

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Post by NL Hartje » 07 Mar 2018, 21:49

Do you know if the author has books covering other locations? I'm not sure I'd be too interested in California, but maybe the state I was born in or the one I live currently...
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Post by Irene C » 08 Mar 2018, 10:57

Thanks for this review. I'd put this book on my shelves, and it is great to get an overview of it. I'll make sure to get a print copy in order to avoid those formatting errors. I would probably not want to read it for the club, because it sounds like a book that shouldn't be read under a deadline!
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