The westward tilt has made California the most ardently wooed political mistress in the nation. Doubtless, that accounts for some of her airs. But the author, a former Sacramento newsman, insists that California has always been at least in her voting habits and state legislation a somewhat fickle bitch. His thesis, that the changing electorate is consistently capricious, is rather too easy to demonstrate: one need only search out the eccentric instances. In addition, he focuses on the governorship as though it were always the center of power. More is said of Brown and Reagan, for example, than of House Speaker Jesse Unruh who was for years the not-so-secret secret king. The portraits of Governor Hiram Johnson (who introduced cross-filing and helped unseat the railroad barons), millionaire state lobbyist Arthur Samish, and Earl Warren are, however, informative-and right. But one of the cruxes of California political history is that the leadership has been uneven (see Roske's scholarly study Everyman's Eden, P. 679). Newsman Phillips gives us a blow-by-blow, breezy survey of state politics. He tries to make the scrapping vivid, and he does. He sticks to issues and events, and though he draws no big conclusions, does offer facts. He shows us California as Spanish sleeping beauty, teenaged-victim of the gold rush rape, everybody's would-be solace, and, finally, harried, skittish matron forced to contend with new citizens, smog, thriving lunatic fringes, and Reagan's stultifying ""Creative Society."" But California still thrives.