Imperial by William Vollmann

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Synopsis

From the author of Europe Central, a journalistic tour de force along the Mexican-American border.

For generations of migrant workers, Imperial Country has held the promise of paradise and the reality of hell. It sprawls across a stirring accidental sea, across the deserts, date groves and labor camps of Southeastern California, right across the border into Mexico. In this eye-opening book, William T. Vollmann takes us deep into the heart of this haunted region, exploring polluted rivers and guarded factories and talking with everyone from Mexican migrant workers to border patrolmen. Teeming with patterns, facts, stories, people and hope, this is an epic study of an emblematic region.
 

About William Vollmann

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William T. Vollmann is the author of eight novels, three collections of stories, a memoir, and Rising Up and Rising Down, which was a finalist for the 2003 National Book Critics Circle Award in nonfiction. His 1996 story collection, The Atlas, won the PEN Center USA/West Award for best fiction and he was the recipient of a 1988 Whiting Writers Award. VollmannÂ's journalism has been published in The New Yorker, Esquire, Harpers, Granta, Grand Street, and Outside Magazine.
 
Published June 25, 2009 by Penguin Books. 1356 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Arts & Photography, Literature & Fiction, Science & Math. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Imperial

Kirkus Reviews

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Vollmann (Riding Toward Everywhere, 2008, etc.) has yet to meet a subject he cannot convert into a tome to rival the Manhattan phone book. So it is with this long, strange trip through California's Imperial County.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of Imperial

The New York Times

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William T. Vollmann’s 10 years combing the down-and-dirty borderlands of California and Mexico.

Aug 02 2009 | Read Full Review of Imperial

Star Tribune

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Vollmann is known for his lengthy books (one ran to seven volumes), but he uses that space for interesting diversions and unique structure. This near-encyclopedic book follows all kinds of tangents and covers a lot of ground.

Aug 01 2009 | Read Full Review of Imperial

AV Club

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William Vollmann returns to his favorite subject in this terrific portrait of an elusive, malleable part of California.

Aug 13 2009 | Read Full Review of Imperial

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"Imperial" is an exhaustively researched macro history of California's Imperial Valley, a desert region that became an agricultural powerhouse after canals brought irrigation water in 1901.

Aug 09 2009 | Read Full Review of Imperial

Tampa Bay Times

Vollmann has erected Imperial, a 208-chapter, 4-pound fortress of verbiage in honor of Imperial County, California's desert-turned-garden-turned-desert where farmers squabble over water rights, migrant workers sneak by ever-vigilant Border Patrol agents and prostitutes beckon to customers (Vollma...

Aug 21 2009 | Read Full Review of Imperial

Bookmarks Magazine

Vollmann is the prolific author of, among other books, the National Book Award–winning Europe Central ( 3.5 of 5 Stars July/Aug 2005), Rising Up and Rising Down ( 4 of 5 Stars Mar/Apr 2004), Poor People ( 3 of 5 Stars May/June 2007), and Riding Toward Everywhere ( 2.5 of 5 Stars May/June 2008).

Aug 02 2009 | Read Full Review of Imperial

The New Yorker

In this week’s New York magazine, Sam Anderson opens his review of William T. Vollmann’s latest novel, “Imperial,” rather hilariously: Imperial is like Robert Caro’s The Power Broker with the attitude of Mike Davis’s City of Quartz, if Robert Caro...In this week’s New York magazine, Sam Anderson ...

Jul 29 2009 | Read Full Review of Imperial

New York Magazine

“Just write that it’s like Robert Caro’s The Power Broker,” she said, “but with the attitude of Mike Davis’s City of Quartz.” This struck me as good advice, and I was all set to take it, but as I worked my way through the book’s final 1,250 pages, I found I had to modify it, slightly, to read as ...

Jul 26 2009 | Read Full Review of Imperial

Reader Rating for Imperial
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