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Bay Area Books
As with all things of great beauty, the Bay Area has inspired libraries full of books over the years -- novels, histories, guidebooks, poetry and more. Following is a sampling of some particular favorites.

History and Culture
History and Culture | Environment | Outdoor Activities | Fiction and Poetry
Imperial San Francisco: Urban Power, Earthly Ruin
Photo of book cover   by Gray Brechin

A historical pot-boiler, this fast-paced, well documented book examines the environmental impact a handful of elite and powerful San Francisco families have had on the city, surrounding regions, and throughout the Pacific Basin. Brechin uses a lively narrative filled with vivid characters to show the hidden costs that the growth of San Francisco has exacted while offering his own, inventive theory of urban development. --Dwight Holing

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The Ohlone Way: Indian Life in the San Francisco-Monterey Bay Area
Photo of book cover   by Malcolm Margolin

Before Europeans arrived in the San Francisco Bay Area, the region was inhabited by one of the densest Indian populations in all of North America, sharing the land with vast herds of elk and antelope, grizzly bears, and flocks of waterfowl so thick they darkened the sky. Margolin captures the Indian way of life in this serious but sympathetic historical recreation. --DH

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Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water
Photo of book cover   by Marc Reisner

A moving and gripping account of how grandiose yet unsustainable water schemes to create an Eden out of sand fostered by hucksters, bureaucrats, and dreamers put the desert-hearted West on an inevitable collision course with environmental disaster. Reisner mixes exhaustive research with literary flair to support his thoroughly original and provocative point of view. While the book covers the entire West, Bay Area readers will find plenty in the tale that touches their lives. --DH

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Dwight Holing is a Bay Area writer who specializes in environmental, natural history, and travel topics.