This should have a good sale on the Coast, for the biographer of Thomas O. Larkin has told his story against a vivid background of California's early history, the borderline period between Mexican occupancy and ownership and statehood under the American flag. It is a story composite of much that has gone into the making of California. There are interesting sidelights on many of the leading figures of the period, on incidents that assume new stature, on personalities and events that differ from the usual interpretation (particularly, Fremont). It is interesting reading, to those who want to fill in the gaps of their knowledge of the state's story, but the author has not succeeded in infusing his material with that vital spark that would make it of wide general interest. Perhaps Larkin was a symbol rather than a personality; somehow he never quite becomes real.