West of Eden: An American Place
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Author(s): Jean Stein,
ISBN-10: 0812998405
ISBN-13: 9780812998405
Published: 2016-02-09
Publisher: Random House
Pages: 368

An epic, mesmerizing oral history of Hollywood and Los Angeles by the author of the contemporary classic Edie Jean Stein influenced the art of oral history in her groundbreaking book Edie: American Girl, an indelible portrait of Andy Warhol “superstar” Edie Sedgwick that was edited with George Plimpton. Now, in West of Eden, Stein turns her lens toward the city Sedgwick came from–Los Angeles–and a mythic cast of fortune hunters and aspiring moguls whose quests for fame and power destroy many along the way. West of Eden, a work of history both grand in scale and intimate in detail, tells the stories of five larger-than-life individuals and their families, each one representing different aspects of Los Angeles and the American dream. There is Edward Doheny, the Wisconsin-born oil tycoon whose corruption ruins the reputation of a United States president and leads to his own son’s violent death. Jack Warner, the son of Jewish Polish immigrants, joins with his brothers to found one of the world’s most iconic film studios. Jane Garland, the troubled daughter of an aspiring actress, can never escape her mother’s schemes. Jennifer Jones, a young actress from Oklahoma, wins an Academy Award at twenty-five, but struggles with despair despite her fame and glamour. Finally, Stein chronicles the ascent of her own father, Jules Stein, an eye doctor born in Indiana, who transforms Hollywood with the creation of an unrivaled agency and studio. Each of these chapters paints a panoramic picture of an outsider pinning his or her hopes on Los Angeles–then watching as the shadow of those dreams envelopes their loved ones, especially their children, and the city itself. Decades in the making, West of Eden depicts a land of absurdity and treachery in the tradition of Raymond Chandler, Nathanael West, and Joan Didion. As she did in Edie, Stein weaves the personal recollections of hundreds of people into an astonishing tapestry of voices telling the saga of a place like no other. From the Hardcover edition.

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