California in the years surrounding World War II was a time of sweeping change, drama and intrigue, heroism and tragedy, a decade that saw the emergence of a new, more powerful role for California in the nation. Starr captures this exciting era with his unique vision and masterful prose. He describes the vast expansion of the war industry and California's role as "arsenal of democracy" (especially the significant part women played in the aviation industry). He examines the politics of the state; Earl Warren as the dominant political figure, the anti-communist movement and "red baiting," and the early career of Richard Nixon. He also looks at culture, ranging from Hollywood, to the counterculture with Henry Miller at Big Sur, to film noir and the fiction of Raymond Chandler. And he illuminates the harassment of Japanese immigrants and the shameful treatment of other minorities, especially Hispanics and blacks.