Miriam Pawel


The Browns of California:
The Family Dynasty that Transformed a State and Shaped a Nation

in conversation with MARSHALL GANZ

This event includes a book signing


September 27, 2018
7:00 PM


Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138


This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store welcomes Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist MIRIAM PAWEL for a discussion of her latest book, The Browns of California: The Family Dynasty that Transformed a State and Shaped a Nation. She will be joined in conversation by MARSHALL GANZ, Senior Lecturer in Public Policy at Harvard University.

About The Browns of California

Even in the land of reinvention, the story is exceptional: Pat Brown, the beloved father who presided over California during an era of unmatched expansion; Jerry Brown, the cerebral son who became the youngest governor in modern times—and then returned three decades later as the oldest.

In The Browns of California, journalist and scholar Miriam Pawel weaves a narrative history that spans four generations, from August Schuckman, the Prussian immigrant who crossed the Plains in 1852 and settled on a northern California ranch, to his great-grandson Jerry Brown, who reclaimed the family homestead one hundred forty years later. Through the prism of their lives, we gain an essential understanding of California and an appreciation of its importance.

The magisterial story is enhanced by dozens of striking photos, many published for the first time. This book gives new insights to those steeped in California history, offers a corrective for those who confuse stereotypes and legend for fact, and opens new vistas for readers familiar with only the sketchiest outlines of a place habitually viewed from afar with a mix of envy and awe, disdain, and fascination.


"Miriam Pawel has written a remarkable book—a generational biography of a political dynasty, ranging from the California Gold Rush to the presidency of Donald Trump. She recounts the pivotal governorship of Pat Brown and the even more significant career of his son Jerry with assured prose and a keen sense of historical context. This is the engrossing saga of a complicated family at the center of American political life for the last sixty years." —T.J. Stiles, Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Custer's Trials and The First Tycoon

"The Browns of California is a compelling, crucial read for anyone who wants to understand the state’s importance on the world stage, at a time that matters more than ever. It’s a fascinating history that also humanizes the enigmatic Jerry Brown, a morally courageous politician who got his start in the anti-Vietnam War movement and has become a major voice on the urgency of the nuclear threat and a leader—governing a state that is the world's sixth largest economy—in curbing the other existential threat to civilization, climate change." —Daniel Ellsberg, author of The Doomsday Machine

"Miriam Pawel’s multigenerational portrait of the quirky, contentious, and complicated Brown family captures the sprawling history of California as well as its often self-deluding mythology. As fascinating as the state, this book is essential for anyone who wants to understand modern California." —Richard White, Margaret Byrne Professor of American History at Stanford University

Marshall Ganz
Marshall Ganz

Marshall Ganz

Marshall Ganz is a Senior Lecturer in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. He entered Harvard College in the fall of 1960, leaving a year before graduation to volunteer with the 1964 Mississippi Summer Project. He found a “calling” as an organizer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and, in the fall of 1965, joined Cesar Chavez in his effort to unionize California farm workers. During 16 years with the United Farm Workers he gained experience in union, political, and community organizing. He was awarded an MPA by the Kennedy School in 1993, completed his Ph.D. in sociology in 2000, and awarded an honorary doctorate in divinity by the Episcopal Divinity School in 2010.

Miriam Pawel
Miriam Pawel

Miriam Pawel

Miriam Pawel is the author of The Crusades of Cesar Chavez: A Biography, a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist, and The Union of Their Dreams: Power, Hope and Struggle in Cesar Chavez's Farm Worker Movement. She is a Pulitzer Prize–winning editor and reporter who spent twenty-five years at Newsday and the Los Angeles Times. She lives in Southern California.

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

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