cover image The Golden Shore: California's Love Affair with the Sea

The Golden Shore: California's Love Affair with the Sea

David Helvarg. St. Martin's/Dunne, $26.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-312-66496-1

In this ambitious work, journalist and conservationist Helvarg (Saved by the Sea) successfully relates the myriad ways in which Californians engage with their beloved Pacific. This reader-friendly sampling of people, places, and their interactions combines biographical sketches of leading figures and civilians with rapturous paeans to beautiful locales and historical snippets. Unsurprisingly, Helvarg starts with surfing, specifically the Mavericks big-wave contest at Half Moon Bay. He covers California's Native population from the earliest arrivals to a recent victory requiring the removal of dams on the Klamath River to return it and its fishing to a more natural state. Environmental issues appear throughout, though Helvarg also devotes entire chapters to shipping, including the port complex of Long Beach and Los Angeles, the fifth largest in the world, as well as the Navy's history with, and presence, in California. In two late chapters Helvarg describes a coastal drive from Mexico to Oregon, and then concludes with thoughts on how Californians will face ongoing environmental trials, such as a projected sea level rise of three feet or more. Californians and readers interested in the intersection of nature, commerce, recreation, and science will appreciate this title. 12 b&w photos. Agent: Kevan Lyon, Marsal Lyons Literary Agency. (Feb.)