Home to former presidents and to movie stars, Palm Springs and its surrounding deserts are among the fastest growing and wealthiest areas of the U.S. But beneath the glitter lies a story of turmoil and a pattern of excess that prefigures many of the issues that face the nation.
The Grumbling Gods surveys the history and allure of Palm Springs, beginning with the Cahuilla Indians, the first historical residents of the region. It includes accounts from the early explorers, a report of mysterious shipwrecks amidst the sand dunes, and selections from the grimly rollicking writings of Raymond Chandler. It penetrates the tinsel of casinos and the placidity of gated golf communities to reveal the painful beauty of deserts and mountains under assault.
Francisco Patencio, the last of the traditional Cahuilla Indians, warned his white neighbors to be careful, that the grim gods inhabiting the canyons around Palm Springs were angry. It is their grumbling, at once chilling and prophetic, and yet sometimes humorous, that we hear from the pages of this book.
Peter Wild is professor of English at the University of Arizona. He is the author of numerous books on the Southwest and its deserts, including The New Desert Reader (University of Utah Press, 2006).
Praise and Reviews:
"The Grumbling Gods is a significant contribution to the understanding of the American West, one that introduces the reader to both a place as well as to the ways in which the human understanding of that place has evolved over the years."—Donald A. Barclay, University of California, Merced