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The King Of California: J.G. Boswell and the Making of A Secret American Empire

Mark Arax, Rick Wartzman

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Prose: non-fiction, History

J.G. Boswell was the biggest farmer in America. He built a secret empire while thumbing his nose at nature, politicians, labour 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 unrivalled 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.

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