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27 WEDNESDAY

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For 20 years, Kevin Starr has been explaining California to a nation alternately confused, lured, and amused by it. A historian and the state librarian by trade, Starr has just completed the most recent volume in a four-book cultural history of California. Endangered Dreams: The Great Depression in California is a 350-page scholarly history that manages to read like a lucid magazine article. Also a newspaper contributor, Starr has a reporter’s sense of what’s important and how to convey it clearly and concisely. In this book he documents the triumph of the “California dream” in the face of “a ruinous depression”—a triumph that left a legacy of public works, artistic achievement, and political compromise still evident today. Both in the book and in his articles, Starr has masterfully realized the goal of the historian: to make history relevant to current lives. Hear him speak at 6 p.m. at the Library of Congress’ James Madison Building, Mumford Room, 1st & Independence Ave. SE. FREE. (202) 707-2905.