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Miriam Pawel / Bloomsbury

Acclaimed biographer Miriam Pawel's newest work tells the story of the most influential family in California political history. In The Browns of California: The Family Dynasty that Transformed a State and Helped Shape a Nation, she traces the rise of Governor Pat Brown and his son Governor Jerry Brown, and examines how they both shaped the state in their own unique and unconventional ways.

UCLA

The San Joaquin Valley’s farm workers are some of the hardest working people in the world. They toil for long hours in the fields to pick the food that feeds the world. While we all eat their produce, for many Americans farm workers don’t inspire admiration, but instead resentment and hostility. Anti-immigrant sentiment often revolves around the notion that undocumented workers are taking jobs that legal residents would otherwise be happy to do.

Ernest Lowe

A new exhibit at the Fresno Art Museum opening Friday July 13th, sheds new light on the history of rural African-American communities in the San Joaquin Valley. It features the work of photographer and journalist Ernest Lowe. From 1960-1964 he documented life in the communities of Dos Palos and Pixley, with fine art, black and white photographs.

It’s been 76 years since Japanese immigrants and Americans were incarcerated, and sent to internment, also known today as concentration camps, during World War II. They were sent there by Executive Order 9066 from President Roosevelt. The action was under the pretense of defending national security on the West Coast. It wasn’t until the war’s end in 1945 that the government  began closing the camps. A new book co-written by Heather C. Lindquist and Edgar Award winning author Naomi Hirahara examines that period after the camp’s close, and before the redress in 1988, when the U.S.

Marshall W. Johnson / Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Seventy five years ago this month, the streets of Los Angeles turned violent in an event that came to be known as the Zoot Suit Riots. The cause is still unclear, but we know this: for 10 days in 1943, white service members attacked young Latino men on the streets of Southern California, while police turned the other way. The attacks are the subject of a new young adult novel by acclaimed children’s author Margarita Engle. In 2009, the Clovis author’s book "The Surrender Tree" won the prestigious Newberry Medal, the first book by a Latina to receive the honor.

The Civil War ended over 150 years ago, but the battle over interpreting it has never really stopped. A new book by Fresno State history professors Ethan J. Kytle and Blain Roberts looks at the way attitudes and interpretations of the war and slavery have changed over the decades in Charleston, South Carolina.

Digital Delano

Many communities across the valley have rich histories. The challenge in many cases is preserving those stories, memories, photos and artifacts for future generations. In one Kern County community, a new effort is underway to do just that. We recently spoke with history professor Oliver Rosales about the Digital Delano project. The effort to collect and record oral histories and more is holding a special event May 1 at the Bakersfield College Delano Campus, and we learn about local residents can help participate. 

Jerry Brown
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California Governor Jerry Brown holds the record for being the state’s youngest governor and also the state's oldest governor. As he nears the end of his record fourth term in office, many are turning to talk about the “L” word – legacy. A new profile in the California Sunday Magazine seeks to provide some new insights into Governor Brown, the evolution of his career and his thinking.

Harper Collins

A new biography of billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian tells the story of how a young boy from Fresno went on to become one of the richest businessmen in America. From airlines to film studios to the auto industry and casinos, Kerkorian was the consummate dealmaker, but he was also a quiet philanthropist, supporting Armenian causes through his Lincy Foundation. We recently spoke with journalist William C.

Google Street View

In 2010, architect Julia Morgan became the first woman to win the prestigious Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects. It was a landmark achievement for the native Californian, who is most famous for designing Hearst Castle for newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. It’s the institute’s highest honor, and one shared by icons of the industry like Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van der Rohe, and Frank Ghery. Even more remarkable – Morgan was awarded the honor 57 years after her death. The award was an attempt in part to correct a longstanding omission by the male-dominated AIA.

Kelly Mizue Aoki / Yonsei Memory Project

A new project organized by fourth-generation Japanese Americans is seeking to preserve memories and create art. Called the Yonsei Memory Project, the effort is a project of Nikiko Masumoto and Brynn Saito. The two will hold events in Fresno on Saturday Febaury 17th and Monday February 19th, including memory tours and an event of poetry and art at the Fresno Assembly Center, the site where local Japanese Americans were processed before they were sent to concentration campus during the Second World War.

Go For Broke

The Kingsburg Historical Society is hosting a new traveling exhibit on the Japanese American experience during the Second World War. The small farming community is known today for its Swedish heritage, but before the interment of citizens in domestic concentration camps during the war, it had a vibrant Japanese American community. The new exhibit, "Courage and Compassion: Our Shared Story of the Japanese American WWII Experience" is on a nationwide tour from the Go For Broke National Education Center, with support from the National Park Service.

Sierra On-Line

It might be hard to believe today, but the Madera County community of Oakhurst was once one of the biggest players in the world of computer gaming. For much of the 1980's and 90's, the mountain community was home to Sierra On-Line, an early pioneer in computer gaming, known for adventure game titles like Kings Quest. Sierra's games featured both innovative technology and groundbreaking storytelling, an approach that came directly from company founders Ken and Roberta Williams.

Heather David / Cal Mod Books

Sixty years ago, taking a road trip in California was a lot different than it is today. In the days before superhighways, Airbnb and navigation software, a family vacation likely included a stop at a roadside motel. Hundreds of these "mom and pop" establishments popped up along the highway in places like Fresno and Bakersfield, offering a clean room, a swimming pool, and maybe even something exotic, like a faux-Polynesian tiki-themed cocktail lounge. Flashing neon signs and space-age architecture were designed to catch the eye from a moving car and bring in new customers 

The highway plays an important part in the mystique of the American West. From the so-called "Mother Road" of Route 66 that wound from Chicago to LA, to the picturesque beauty of the California coast along Highway 1, our highways are more than just transportation infrastructure, they are a part of our culture. That’s certainly the case here in the middle of the state, where a ribbon of concrete and asphalt has stitched together towns big and small for decades – Highway 99.

Google

For decades Trout's Nightclub has been a fixture in the Oildale neighborhood of Bakersfield. It was the musical home of people like the late Red Simpson and others who helped make the "Bakersfield Sound" incredibly popular among country music fans in the decades following World War II.  The venue was also considered one of the city's last original honky-tonk clubs. But earlier this spring the bar closed, and doesn't show any signs of reopening soon.

Courtesy Evo Bluestein

Central California has a rich folk music tradition, which is being documented in a new book by Evo Bluestein. "The Road to Sweet’s Mill  -- Folk Music in the West during the 1960s and ’70s" comes out later this year and tells the story of the people and places behind the region's folk music sound, which flourished at Sierra music camp that gives the book its name, as well as other venues. Bluestein is also presenting a special concert to celebrate the new book taking place this Saturday at Fresno State's Whalberg Recital Hall.

Oxford University Press

It was one of the biggest scandals the country had ever seen - the theft of U.S. government secrets about the atomic bomb that wound up in the hands of the Soviet Union. The federal government eventually tried and executed Julius and Ethel Rosenberg for conspiracy, sparking an international outcry. Now the story of the Rosenbergs is back in the news, as there is an effort underway to seek a presidential pardon in their case.

The San Joaquin Valley is home to two of the nation's 100 largest cities with Fresno and Bakersfield. But it's the small towns like Kerman that make this part of the state such a unique place. Now Kerman farmer and community leader Paul Betancourt has written a new book about the history of this small farm town. He joined us to talk about the town's origins and unique history in the days of riverboats and steam engines. 

Michael J Semas

Michael J. Semas has an interesting perspective into valley history thanks to his collection of thousands of rare postcards, many more than 100 years old. Real photo postcards captured everyday life in Central California, and in many cases, they may be the only images remaining of certain communities, people or buildings. 

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