The King of California

The King of California

J.G. Boswell and the Making of A Secret American Empire

Book - 2003
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Baker & Taylor
Uses interviews, archival documents, court filings, and published sources to present the story of the Boswell family, detailing how they created a farming empire which owned more agricultural acreage and controlled more river water than any other single land owner in the West.

Perseus Publishing
J.G. Boswell was the biggest farmer in America. He built a secret empire while thumbing his nose at nature, politicians, labor unions and every journalist who ever tried to lift the veil on the ultimate "factory in the fields." The King of California is the previously untold account of how a Georgia slave-owning family migrated to California in the early 1920s,drained one of America 's biggest lakes in an act of incredible hubris and carved out the richest cotton empire in the world. Indeed, the sophistication of Boswell 's agricultural operation -from lab to field to gin - is unrivaled anywhere.

Much more than a business story, this is a sweeping social history that details the saga of cotton growers who were chased from the South by the boll weevil and brought their black farmhands to California. It is a gripping read with cameos by a cast of famous characters, from Cecil B. DeMille to Cesar Chavez.

Book News
A reporter and an editor from the Los Angeles Times chronicle the little-known story of the rise of a cotton baron in 1920s California. Labor and water rights are among the issues explored. Photos include the Boswell mansion, where several movies were filmed. Annotation (c) Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Publisher: New York : Public Affairs, 2003
ISBN: 9781586480288
Characteristics: 558p. : ill
Additional Contributors: Wartzman, Rick


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