This week we begin a journey into California’s past, both the story and landscape of the gold rush. Spring is perfect for physical exploration, when it’s still cool and the rolling foothills of the western Sierra Nevada are abloom with wildflowers.
The story is worth diving into just about any time—especially if your guide is journalist and historian Carey McWilliams, who, to commemorate California’s first 100 years of statehood, in 1949 published his exceptional assessment, California: The Great Exception. If you’ve never read it, scare up a copy. (Mine is a paperback first issued by University of California Press in 1999.) If you have it tucked away on a bookshelf, find it and read it again.