Palo Alto, by Malcolm Harris
Palo Alto’s weather is temperate, its people are educated and enterprising, its corporations are spiritually and materially ambitious and demonstrably world-changing. Palo Alto is also a haunted toxic waste dump built on stolen Indian burial grounds, and an integral part of the capitalist world system.
In Palo Alto, the first comprehensive, global history of Silicon Valley, Malcolm Harris examines how and why Northern California evolved in the particular, consequential way it did, tracing the ideologies, technologies, and policies that have been engineered there over the course of 150 years of Anglo settler colonialism, from IQ tests to the “tragedy of the commons,” racial genetics, and “broken windows” theory. The Internet and computers, too. It's a story about how a small American suburb became a powerful engine for economic growth and war, and how it came to lead the world into a surprisingly disastrous 21st century. Palo Alto is an urgent and visionary history of the way we live now, one that ends with a clear-eyed, radical proposition for how we might begin to change course.
Praise for Palo Alto:
“[Harris] retains a keen eye for the cultural and economic hallmarks and exports of his famous hometown. . . [Palo Alto] feels like the culmination of his upbringing and career. It’s a stunning, Technicolor anvil of a book. . . Palo Alto nonetheless manages to tell a story that is grand in its scope, startling in its specifics, and ingenious in the connections it draws.”―Scott W. Stern
“Extraordinary. In lucid, personal, often funny, and always insightful prose, Malcolm Harris finds the driving thrust of reaction not in capitalism’s left-behind regions but in its vanguard: California, and specifically Silicon Valley. We have not yet felt the full force of the shit storm that the titans of tech have been conjuring. We soon will. If you want to understand what’s coming, you need to read this book.”―Greg Grandin
“A searching history of California and its role in predatory, extractive capitalism…[Harris] proposes a program of divestiture and restitution, including ‘the forfeit of Stanford’s vast accumulated wealth,’ that is breathtaking in its audacity…highly readable, sharply argued and well researched.”―KIRKUS REVIEWS, Starred Review
720 pages, Hardcover.