California land in the Gilded Age explored in new faculty book

Assistant professor of history, Tamara Venit-Shelton, recently published  A Squatter’s Republic: Land and the Politics of Monopoly in California, 1850-1900 (University of California Press, 2013).

“This book makes contributions to the history of California and, more broadly, to the history of the United States in the Gilded Age,’ says Venit-Shelton. “First, it casts new light on the most important political economic reform movement of the Gilded Age: anti-monopolism. The book shows how the opposition to land monopoly helped nineteenth-century Americans make sense of the radical changes taking place as their country expanded its borders, diversified its population, and industrialized its economy. The book also explains the limits of anti-land monopolism and its eventual retreat from the center of industrial reform by the end of the nineteenth century. In tracing this history, the book shows how California became the epicenter of debates that would shake up and transform the national political economy, in the Gilded Age and beyond.”

Reeve Huston, associate professor of history, Duke University, had this review of the book on the publisher’s website: “Land reform and anti-monopoly politics have long been discussed obliquely, as an ever-present but poorly understood element in Gilded Age labor and farmers’ movements. No longer. Tamara Venit Shelton has made compelling sense of a central thread in nineteenth-century American politics, social movements, and social thought. A Squatter’s Republic is an important and satisfying book.”

For more information on the book, or to order a copy, visit the University of California Press website.