Napa at Last Light: Book summary and reviews of Napa at Last Light by James Conaway

Napa at Last Light

America's Eden in an Age of Calamity

by James Conaway

Napa at Last Light by James Conaway X
Napa at Last Light by James Conaway

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Book Summary

A New York Times bestselling author reveals how the beautiful, isolated Napa Valley wine region of California exploded into an extraordinary outsized version of the American dream and whose vineyards sparked an unbelievable power struggle between old family stewardship and multinational corporations.

Not so long ago, wine was an exclusively European product. Now it is thoroughly American; emblematic of Napa Valley, an area idealized as the epicenter of great wines and foods and a cultural tourist destination. But the romanticized accounts you find about it and its denizens is not what you'll encounter in James Conaway's candid book.

Napa at Last Light exposes the often shadowy side of the latter days of Napa Valley - marked by complex personal relationships, immense profits, passionate beliefs, and sometimes desperate struggles to prevail. In the balance hang fortunes and personal relationships made through hard work and, in too many cases, manipulation of laws, people, and institutions.

Napans who grew up trusting in the beneficence of the "vintner" class now confront in the twenty-first century multinational corporations and their allies who have stealthily subsumed the old family landmarks and abandoned the once glorious conviction that agriculture is the highest and best use of the land. Inherent in that conviction is the sanctity of the place, threatened now by a relentless drive for profits at the expense of land, water, and even life.

Hailed as the definitive Napa writer, Conaway has spent decades covering the region. Napa at Last Light showcases the greed, enviable profits, legacy, and tradition that still collide in this compelling story. The area is still full of dreamers, but of opposing sorts: those longing for a harmonious society based upon the vine envisioned by Thomas Jefferson more than two hundred years ago, and self-styled overlords yearning for wealth and the special acclaim only fine wine can bring. Bets are still out on what the future holds.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. This is a stunning and sad look at how an idyllic community (which has recently been ravaged by fire) became a victim of its own success." - Publishers Weekly

"Vivid storytelling by an author who knows the Napa Valley geography and people well. Recommended for a range of collections, not just where books on wine are popular." - Library Journal

"A strong plea for responsible stewardship of the land." - Kirkus

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James Conaway grew up in Memphis, but lived in Europe for several years before moving to Washington, DC. A former Wallace Stegner fellow at Stanford University, he's the author of thirteen books, including Napa at Last Light and the New York Times bestseller, Napa: The Story of an American Eden. His work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, Harper's, The New Republic, Gourmet, Smithsonian, and National Geographic Traveler. He divides his time between Washington, DC, and California.

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