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California Comeback

California Comeback

How A "Failed State" Became a Model for the Nation

Narda Zacchino

Thomas Dunne Books

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An in-depth look at California's remarkable 21st century turnaround, focusing on the role played by the state government under Jerry Brown.

In the most economically important state in the country—and the 7th largest economy in the world—a political revolution of historic importance has occurred which has not been sufficiently covered by the media. In the state where the Reagan Revolution was born, there has recently occurred a remarkable progressive revolution under the leadership of another governor, four-term Democrat Jerry Brown.

Over the past several decades, as it has evolved from a red state to solid blue, California has boldly reinvigorated the notion that government is not a dirty word but rather an instrument for uniting people and improving their lives.

From raising taxes on those with annual incomes over $250,000, to shifting money toward the schools in low-income communities, from seeking environmental alliances with other countries to limit climate change, to the rejection of militaristic solutions to illegal immigration, California has been a laboratory of innovation.
Californians have rejected the "race to the bottom" right-wing philosophy that catapulted conservative politics in recent years. That model of endorsing privatization, deregulation, reductions in government spending, and a tax system that disproportionately favors the wealthy, is exemplified by conservative governors and rejected by the pragmatic liberal Jerry Brown.

In California Comeback, award-winni… More…

An in-depth look at California's remarkable 21st century turnaround, focusing on the role played by the state government under Jerry Brown.

In the most economically important state in the country—and the 7th largest economy in the world—a political revolution of historic importance has occurred which has not been sufficiently covered by the media. In the state where the Reagan Revolution was born, there has recently occurred a remarkable progressive revolution under the leadership of another governor, four-term Democrat Jerry Brown.

Over the past several decades, as it has evolved from a red state to solid blue, California has boldly reinvigorated the notion that government is not a dirty word but rather an instrument for uniting people and improving their lives.

From raising taxes on those with annual incomes over $250,000, to shifting money toward the schools in low-income communities, from seeking environmental alliances with other countries to limit climate change, to the rejection of militaristic solutions to illegal immigration, California has been a laboratory of innovation.
Californians have rejected the "race to the bottom" right-wing philosophy that catapulted conservative politics in recent years. That model of endorsing privatization, deregulation, reductions in government spending, and a tax system that disproportionately favors the wealthy, is exemplified by conservative governors and rejected by the pragmatic liberal Jerry Brown.

In California Comeback, award-winning journalist Narda Zacchino, who has covered California politics for over three decades, clearly lays out the history of California's initial experiments with progressivism under Brown, its swing to the right under Reagan, near financial collapse under Schwarzenegger, and recent return to stability—bulwarked but the progressive policies made possible by the second coming of Jerry Brown. This progressive mindset, forged in the crucible of the tumultuous last half century, is California's true contribution not only to the country, but to the world.

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The California Dream


Living in California is like living in a bowl of granola; what ain’t fruits or nuts, is flakes.


—GALLAGHER, COMEDIAN


This...

Praise for California Comeback

"An informative history of troubles and triumphs in the Golden State...persuasive."- Kirkus

"Zacchino makes a compelling argument for Brown's success in turning California's economy around."- Library Journal

"In the first decade of the twenty-first century, California seemed to generate one catastrophe after another. By crash year 2008, some observers, including myself, were speculating that an over-extended and under-financed California might soon become the nation's first Failed State. In this fast-moving and informed tour de force of contemporary history, veteran reporter Narda Zacchino chronicles how and why California got so close to the cliff -- and how it recovered itself during the third and fourth terms of its comeback governor Jerry Brown."--Kevin Starr, Professor, University of Southern California

"This is a masterful and indispensable work for anyone wanting to understand California, the most important state in the union and the seventh largest economy in the world, and why it stands as a model for our country. It is a revealing case study of how a government can dig itself out of an economic morass, and is the culmination of a life’s work by one of the nation's finest journalists who continues to distinguish herself with this book."--Tom Johnson, Former Publisher, Los Angeles Times

"The California tax revolt of the 1970s wrong-footed Gov. Jerry Brown and helped sweep his predecessor, Ronald Reagan, into the White House. But as Narda … More…

"An informative history of troubles and triumphs in the Golden State...persuasive."- Kirkus

"Zacchino makes a compelling argument for Brown's success in turning California's economy around."- Library Journal

"In the first decade of the twenty-first century, California seemed to generate one catastrophe after another. By crash year 2008, some observers, including myself, were speculating that an over-extended and under-financed California might soon become the nation's first Failed State. In this fast-moving and informed tour de force of contemporary history, veteran reporter Narda Zacchino chronicles how and why California got so close to the cliff -- and how it recovered itself during the third and fourth terms of its comeback governor Jerry Brown."--Kevin Starr, Professor, University of Southern California

"This is a masterful and indispensable work for anyone wanting to understand California, the most important state in the union and the seventh largest economy in the world, and why it stands as a model for our country. It is a revealing case study of how a government can dig itself out of an economic morass, and is the culmination of a life’s work by one of the nation's finest journalists who continues to distinguish herself with this book."--Tom Johnson, Former Publisher, Los Angeles Times

"The California tax revolt of the 1970s wrong-footed Gov. Jerry Brown and helped sweep his predecessor, Ronald Reagan, into the White House. But as Narda Zacchino suggests in her expert survey of recent California history, Brown’s encore as governor may write finis to the Age of Reagan by combining fiscal prudence and farsighted policy.California Comeback describes how the state got its groove back—and how that outcome may prefigure (once again) the future of American governance."--Peter Richardson, Lecturer, San Francisco State University, and author, No Simple Highway: A Cultural History of the Grateful Dead

"Everyone who has ever counted California out should read this brilliant book which shows how the state has continued to invent and reinvent itself, defying the doomsayers and quite possibly defining the future.”--Geoffrey Cowan, President of the Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands

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Reviews from Goodreads

Narda Zacchino

Narda Zacchino is an author and award-winning journalist who served as a top editor at the Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle. During her 31 years at the Los Angeles Times, she was a reporter, government and politics editor, Sacramento bureau chief, Editor of the Orange County edition, Deputy Managing Editor, Associate Editor, and Vice President. She is the co-author of Boots on the Ground by Dark, a book on NFL star/Army Ranger Pat Tillman written with his mother, Mary.

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Mike Zacchino

Thomas Dunne Books

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