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Lovingly Joseph Krutch applies his sensitive perceptions to an area he has grown to know intimately in ten visits. He feels that California Baja, the long, bereft peninsuis that just down along the Pacific Coast past Tijuana and is owned by Mexico, is a world all its own and has lessons to give the rest of the world. Inhabited by only a few thousand people, its thousand miles of length require ten days of hard driving over primitive roads through a strange kind of desert. Krutch gives a rambling account of his visits, discusses the geological and biological life. There is a whole chapter devoted to the exotic boojum tree, a full story about the flourishing natural sanctuary for the gray whale and the elephant seal, an account of the now defunct onyx industry. Krutch writes too of the tentative human communities, past and present. Although Cortez founded a colony on this peninsule nearly a century before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, settlement after settlement,- of the original Indians, of the warrior-settlers, of the Spanish missionaries, of the 19th century miners, developed briefly and then dwindled. Today, with its beautiful beaches, excellent and varied fishing -- and greater accessibility by airplane- California Baja may be poised on the brink of a tourist invasion. Krutch wonders whether there can be some middle ground in the preservation of one of the last natural territories, between its present arid isolation and the graceless tourist commercialism. The scientific record of a biological voyage written jointly by E.F. Ricketts and John Steinbeck -- The Log from the (Viking- reissued in 1951) gives another and wholly different approach to this relatively unknown region. Together, the books make an extraordinary contribution to widened horizons.

Publisher: Morrow-Sloane