California is one of America's most pivotal states, a cultural center that's helped define the national identity thanks in no small part to Hollywood, and an economic powerhouse that's surpassed even the United Kingdom to become the world's fifth-largest. How did the region become so successful and influential? And what lies ahead of it? To find out, author John Kerr chronicles the origins of the state and weaves a narrative that charts the saga of "The Bear: The Rising."
The story of California is told through four lives that encompass events including the Spanish missions to the war against Mexico, the gold rush to the rise of cattle ranches. They depict how the land is where dreams are made, yet where nothing is as it appears.
We follow a conquistador, Captain Juan Diego de la Vega, who is set to assume his command when he runs afoul of the clergies and is subsequently banished from the military. The former officer is forced to flee like a common criminal, pursued and with no choice but to take refuge with a Luiseño tribe. We see the tables have turned on the captain.
The narrative then shifts focus to Sean McGuire, a young man of sixteen who must flee his home in famine-wracked Ireland. Upon landing in California, war breaks out. The Irishman is befriended by Jedediah McCabe, a mountain man and scout. Together, the two join the Bear Flag rebellion and General Fremont's army. While on a scouting mission, Sean is befriend by Falcon, the grandson of Juan de la Vega, who guides the young scout on a life or death mission to locate Kit Carson and General Kearney's army and rescue Fremont and his men.
Another immigrant's story commences with Lee Sing arriving in America only to find death and discrimination until his path crosses with that of McGuire. We see him rise to become one of Chinatown's prominent citizens until a Tong war erupts and exacts a deadly price on Lee.
We then follow Kathleen O'Neil, a strong-willed Irish woman who saves McGuire and becomes his wife. She becomes the brains behind the McGuire family's wealth and helps them rise in society.
These fictional characters who navigate historical circumstances illustrate how California grew, and how this process involved countless people from diverse backgrounds, their lives forming a rich tapestry that would define such a resource-rich region. This combination of natural splendor, plucky population and the unpredictable course of history would be what made the state of the bear a paradise to some and a dead end for the less fortunate. That is the striking truth Kerr conveys with his tale, one that will entice both dedicated denizens of the state as well as history buffs and those who just love a good yarn.
"History has always been of great interest to me,” Kerr says. “The fact that we are here for a brief period of time and homo-sapiens continue to covet real estate and construct arbitrary borders over the land has intrigued me for decades. The simple truth is; no one owns terra firma. We are all just merely passing through."
Reviews and What Readers Say
“Great action and adventure story. Lots of characters come in and out and cross paths in a novel that begins with the Spanish conquistadors and takes the reader up to the 1890's in what was once called the "Murder State." Does get a bit gruesome with some of the killings, but that was why it was referred to as the wild west. This book would make a great HBO or Netflix miniseries."
― JZ52, Amazon Client, Verified Purchase
“A book published in early 2017, The Bear: The Rising, A Tale of California by John Kerr, is a fascinating and intriguing lesson in the history of the development of the Southwest, from the late 1700’s until the beginning of the 20th century. Using fictional characters whose lives and generations intertwine, we learn how the Mexicans, Indians, Conquistadors, Cowboys, Chinese and others had their influences in the settling of the Southwest. It was a great read, and I enjoyed it so much, I immediately read it a second time to savor the author’s descriptive narrative. Looking forward to a continuation of this saga.”
―Tsarkie, Amazon Client, Verified Purchase
“ Loved this book. As a native Californian it was especially interesting to read about the events that made my state a State. Richly intertwined stories. Enjoyable read.”
― SML, Amazon Client, Verified Purchase
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John Kerr grew up in Southern California. His script Hound Dog: The Lieber & Stoller Story is in development with Corky Hale Productions. Kerr worked as a producer/director for NBC and CBS in Hawaii. John has written and produced enough commercials to burn in hell for that alone. He plays drums and saxophone in blues and jazz bands. Kerr lives in Southern California with his wife three dogs and two cats and will never reside further than a five minute drive from a great Mexican restaurant.