Magazine article California History

Between the Lines

Magazine article California History

Between the Lines

Article excerpt

People can read or study the same material or witness the same event but emerge with radically distinct interpretations. Reading between the lines denotes perceiving or detecting an unexpressed meaning. In this issue, Alex Wagner Lough's essay, "Henry George, Frederick Jackson Turner, and the 'Closing of the American Frontier,'" observes that "both George and Turner drew ... from the same historians, economists, and philosophers to tackle the issues before them." Each grappled with the value of land and the future of its ownership, a subject of enormous interest in California and the rest of the nation by the late nineteenth century. "For Turner," Lough notes, "the disappearance of the frontier signaled the end of the era of American Exceptionalism, largely defined by its independence from the class-based agitations facing Europe," while for George, landlordism--the ownership of land--was the basic determinant of a people's and a nation's morality and well-being.

Haunting views of "Manzanar in 1973," photographs made by James S. Brust, depict the derelict and forsaken War Relocation Center in Owens Valley where more than 10,000 Japanese American citizens and resident aliens had been confined thirty years earlier. Brust had sped past the unmarked and disremembered site many times before a book identifying the place as a "ghost town" triggered his curiosity. His photo essay of the space he encountered--eerie, evocative, and consequential ground--documents the remnants of the abandoned site, a restoration of memory accomplished by a growing number of individuals and organizations in the following years. …

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