My First Book Review!

So now I'm a book reviewer as well!  Although in this case, it's only one book and a second may be a long time in coming if the one I recently read is any indication.

I say that as this book shows an incredible 529 pages for the hardcover edition.  That reminds me of those Tom Clancy novels that were reminiscent of a telephone directory.  This was one of the few books I have ever read via eBooks.  As such, I never knew where I was in the book.  It did seem to go on and on.  I kept wondering where I was in relationship to the end, something that is much more evident with a book done in paperback.  The book I read was:

Napa:  The Story of an American Eden

by James Conaway


From what I've indicated already, you can surmise that it's a LONG book to read.  I can't tell you how long it took as I would pick it up only from time-to-time, read a few chapters and then set it down, usually for a couple days.  The eBook version also didn't have page numbers, at least ones that I could find, to tell me how far in I was.

This is a historical rendition of the beginning of what Napa Valley and the wine industry have undergone throughout the early years of its development.  Reading about the early pioneers that settled there and their triumphs and failures.  The friendships and adversaries created while trying to decide the fate of the region.

The many names that are so familiar to me as I have dug into the wineries of so many.  Only now to find how those individuals became so entrenched in the politics and eventual direction taken.  I found myself almost reliving the times I went to Napa when I lived in California to try and remember what may have been going on at that time in relation to what I read in the book.  Realizing how little I knew what was happening as I went from winery to winery and only now seeing the "bigger picture."


This is the first of what looks to be a trilogy of Napa Valley.  Taking you up through the year 2000.  The battles that ensued over agriculture, wine production and the marketing and sales of the same.  Who fell on which side of each issue.  The historical review is amazing and pulls you in to almost take sides yourself.  For all of this remarkable information, I did have ONE major issue!

As I stated, this is a very long and drawn out rendition.  I wish I could have seen the Cliff Notes version!  Now, not that I don't stretch things out a bit, as do most writers in an attempt to bring you closer to the storyline and participants, but for me, Conaway goes to an extreme.  Describing what people were wearing to this meeting or that or so much detail in what is going on around at the time.  A little less fluff, as it were, would have kept my attention for a longer period of time and brought the historical relevance into tighter focus.

Conaway (2).jpg

Other than that, Conaway does a nice job of bringing the historical into view and makes me want to dive into Volume 2,  "The Far Side of Eden: New Money, Old Land, and the Battle for Napa Valley."  I'll be interested if he tightened things up a bit as it shows this has ONLY 384 pages.  His third volume, "Napa at Last Light: America's Eden in an Age of Calamity," has 336 pages, and was just recently released, so it'll be a while before I get to that one.

For me, I can see the relevance of reading the trilogy as it brings what I already know into tighter focus and helps identify some of the major players in the area.  While historical in nature, I also wonder how much, if any, of Mr. Conaway's own insights and bias, might make its way into the next chapters?

While there may be more sensational trilogies and beyond out there, Star Trek, Star Wars, Avengers (I just saw Infinity War - WOW), there aren't too many "historical" ones that come to mind at the moment.  If you've got some time and have an interest in the early years in Napa, as I did, this is a good start.