Breaking down Boswell

L.A. Times staffers Mark Arax and Rick Wartzman, authors of The King of California: J.G. Boswell and the Making of a Secret American Empire, tell in a Calendar piece today how they got the country's biggest farmer -- a serious recluse and Stanford econ grad -- to talk after almost two years of pursuit. It makes a good read.

Eventually, another story line surfaced: Bill Boswell, Jim's deceased father, had been the town drunk. He could down nine straight beers, we were told, and never once have to go the bathroom.

It made for great gossip. We had a hunch that it might also make for great leverage.

We called Jim Boswell and told him how the people of Corcoran were remembering his dad. Surely, we told him, his capacity for Coors couldn't be the whole story.

The line fell silent. Then suddenly he began to talk — about his father and his uncle and how they had worked together to start the whole enterprise on a small piece of ground just outside town.

The door was finally open.

Boswell ultimately invited us to join him in Corcoran — as long as we were willing to get up before the sun did. "Be here at 5:30," he said, "and don't forget your pencils to take down all my lies."

[snipped]

Boswell would come to bemoan his cooperation. He even offered to throw some cash at us, if we'd just go away. "I hope I'm dead when this book comes out," he said. "I just don't see any good coming out of this."

The book already got good treatment in the Sunday Book Review a couple of weeks back. It's by Perseus Books Group.


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