A stunning memoir of the history of a family and the history of a country, from one of the greatest American writers of the century.
In this moving and unexpected book, Joan Didion reassesses parts of her life, her work, her history, and America's. 'Where I Was From', in Didion's words, "represents an exploration into my own confusions about the place and the way in which I grew up, misapprehensions and misunderstandings so much a part of who I became that I can still to this day confront them only obliquely".
The book is a haunting narrative of how her own family moved west with the frontier, from the birth of her great-great-great-great-great-grandmother in Virginia in 1766 to the death of her mother on the edge of the Pacific in 2001; of how the wagon-train stories of hardship and abandonment and endurance created a culture in which survival would seem the sole virtue.
In 'Where I Was From', Didion turns her eye onto her own work to examine how the folly and recklessness in the very grain of the California settlement led to the California we know today - a state mortgaged first to the railroad, then to the aerospace industry, and overwhelmingly to the Federal Government, a dependent colony of those political and corporate owners who fly in for the annual encampment of the Bohemian Club.
Here is the one writer we always want to read on California showing us the startling contradictions in its - and in America's core values.