Kevin Starr is nothing short of the John Muir of our times. Both men sought the essence of California: Muir in his lonely Yosemite sojourn, Starr among Californians themselves, through his sheer ubiquity as state librarian (and now as librarian emeritus). Their pursuits made them representative of California and representative Californians. We need not commemorate Starr in coinage. But we ought to honor his example of public service, his inexhaustible energy and his compulsion to study, write and talk about this place and its people.
Starr retired this month as state librarian after 10 years; he'll teach fulltime at USC and write. His series of books on California's evolution are must-reads for anyone seriously interested in the state's history. Writes Deverell: "Homeric in ambition, Starr's 'California dream' series is the most important scholarly investigation of California ever produced." And, incidentally, Starr used a speech at Cal State Northridge a few years ago to give a glowing review to The San Fernando Valley: America's Suburb, and will end up being cited a couple of places in Wilshire Boulevard.