A History of California, Capitalism, and the World
The first comprehensive, global history of Silicon Valley, from railroad capitalists to microchip assemblers, showing how Northern California created the world as we know it
Palo Alto is nice. The weather is temperate, the people are educated, rich, healthy, enterprising. Remnants of a hippie counterculture have synthesized with high technology and big finance to produce the spiritually and materially ambitious heart of Silicon Valley, whose products are changing how we do everything from driving around to eating food. It is also a haunted toxic waste dump built on stolen Indian burial grounds, and an integral part of the capitalist world system.
In PALO ALTO, the first comprehensive, global history of Silicon Valley, Malcolm Harris examines how and why Northern California evolved in the particular, consequential way it did, tracing the ideologies, technologies, and policies that have been engineered there over the course of 150 years of Anglo settler colonialism, from IQ tests to the "tragedy of the commons," racial genetics, and "broken windows" theory. The Internet and computers, too. It's a story about how a small American suburb became a powerful engine for economic growth and war, and how it came to lead the world into a surprisingly disastrous 21st century. PALO ALTO is an urgent and visionary history of the way we live now, one that ends with a clear-eyed, radical proposition for how we might begin to change course.
"Extraordinary. In lucid, personal, often funny, and always insightful prose, Malcolm Harris finds the driving thrust of reaction not in capitalism’s left-behind regions but in its vanguard: California, and specifically Silicon Valley. We have not yet felt the full force of the shit storm that the titans of tech have been conjuring. We soon will. If you want to understand what’s coming, you need to read this book."—Greg Grandin, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The End of Myth