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Fradkin, Philip L(awrence) 1935-

FRADKIN, Philip L(awrence) 1935-

PERSONAL: Born February 28, 1935, in New York, NY; son of Leon (a dentist) and Elvira (a writer and lecturer) Fradkin; children: two. Education: Williams College, B.A., 1957.

ADDRESSES: Home—P.O. Box 817, Pt. Reyes, CA 94956. Agent—Carl D. Brandt, Brandt & Hochman, 501 Broadway, Ste. 2310, New York, NY 10036. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: San Carlos Enquirer, San Carlos, CA, general assignment reporter and display advertising salesman, 1960–61; Turlock Journal, Turlock, CA, general assignment reporter and farm editor, 1961–62; San Rafael Independent-Journal, San Rafael, CA, general assignment reporter, 1962–64; Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, CA, general assignment reporter, 1964–68, correspondent in South Vietnam, 1968–69, environmental writer, 1970–75; California Resources Agency, Sacramento, CA, assistant secretary, 1975–76; Audubon, New York, NY, western editor, 1976–81; Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, consultant, 2002; Stanford University, lecturer, 2002

AWARDS, HONORS: Pulitzer Prize for journalism (with others), 1966, for Los Angeles Times coverage of the Watts riots; Pulitzer Prize nomination, 1971, for Fallout: An American Nuclear Tragedy; media award from Sierra Club, 1974, for an article on offshore oil leasing.

WRITINGS:

California: The Golden Coast, Viking (New York, NY), 1974.

A River No More: The Colorado River and the West, Knopf (New York, NY), 1981, reprinted, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 1996.

Fallout: An American Nuclear Tragedy, University of Arizona Press (Tucson, AZ), 1989, reprinted, Johnson Books, 2004.

Sagebrush Country: Land and the American West, Knopf (New York, NY), 1989, reprinted, Johnson Books, 2004.

Wanderings of an Environmental Journalist in Alaska and the American West, University of New Mexico Press (Albuquerque, NM), 1993.

The Seven States of California: A Natural and Human History, Holt (New York, NY), 1995.

Magnitude 8: Earthquakes and Life along the San Andreas Fault, Holt (New York, NY), 1998.

Wildest Alaska: Journeys of Great Peril in Lituya Bay, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 2001.

Stagecoach: Wells Fargo and the American West, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2002.

The Great Earthquake and Firestorms of 1906: How San Francisco Nearly Destroyed Itself, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 2005.

(With others) After the Ruins, 1906 and 2006: Rephotographing the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 2006.

Contributor to national and regional magazines.

SIDELIGHTS: Philip L. Fradkin's A River No More: The Colorado River and the West is about the irrational use of water resources in the western United States. The first of the book's seven chapters explains the workings of a river basin, its watersheds, and its tributaries. The remainder of the book reveals the significance of the problems plaguing the Colorado River, problems caused by too much demand for too little water. According to Fradkin, the use of water for cattle, irrigation, power, and recreation has diverted such vast amounts from the Colorado watershed that no water has reached the river 's natural outlet, the Gulf of Mexico, for more than twenty years.

Fradkin's analysis of the condition of the Colorado River is based upon years of study and exploration. Fradkin has traveled the entire length of the Colorado River system—which passes through seven states and into Mexico—has interviewed ranchers, Indians, irrigators, and suburbanites dependent upon the waters of the Colorado for their survival, and has studied the history and politics of the water's allocation. "Out of years of study he has brought forth conclusions that are simple in their basis but complex in their implications," Wallace Stegner observed in the New Republic. "There is not enough water in the west for all the things people plan to do there. There is not even enough for the things that already are being done there. The west, despite its deceptive openness, is over-populated." A River No More is a pessimistic but believable account of the future of the West, Stegner concluded. It "makes a statement of the utmost importance and gravity…. [It] is the most comprehensive book there is about the Colorado River."

Fradkin examines another environmental hazard in Fallout: An American Nuclear Tragedy. The author attended court trials over ten years that culminated in 1984 in an award of more than two million dollars to eight persons living in the southwest. The victims had been exposed to dangerous levels of radiation after the atmospheric tests of nuclear weapons in the deserts of southern Nevada during the 1950s and 1960s. Fallout recounts how the radioactive dust drifted through Nevada, northern Arizona and southwestern Utah, affecting cattle, sheep, and human life. Leukemia, thyroid cancer, and breast cancer were among the diseases contracted by those exposed to the radiation; as Fradkin wrote, the victims' attempts to get help or answers led to government displays of "incompetence, arrogance, deception, avarice, deceit, treachery, and fraud." The author, according to Henry Wagner Jr., writing for the Journal of the American Medical Association, "has no sympathy for [Atomic Energy Commission] officials facing the problem of telling people to stay indoors without scaring them to the point that the tests … might have been stopped by court injunctions."

Indeed, Fradkin points the finger of blame squarely at the U.S. government, accusing the Atomic Energy Commission, among others, of misleading persons in the affected area. Miners working downwind from the blasts, for example, were advised to evacuate the area, but also told that there would be no danger if they stayed. "Concerns for public health," added Wagner, "were secondary to concerns for national security." To Whole Earth Review writer Randolph Delehanty, "This is a story where everything of value loses because the system—our system—worked."

Speculation and fact combine in Magnitude 8: Earthquakes and Life along the San Andreas Fault. The book opens with a nightmare scenario: a magnitude-8 quake hitting San Francisco. Deaths number in the tens of thousands, and damage exceeds 200 billion dollars. "That part of the book is speculation," commented Discover writer Kathy Svitil. "The rest is facts," including Fradkin's history of temblors along California's coastline, and his clarification that a magnitude-8 quake—"the big one"—presents real risk. To a Publishers Weekly contributor, the book's most fascinating sections "deal not with geology or seismology,… but with human reactions, both personal and civil, to the destructive potential of quakes." Bryce Christensen, writing in Booklist, acknowledged Fradkin's sense of communion with the land, envisioning the author "puzzling over its tortured rock layers" and trying to understand the secrets behind the natural phenomenon of the earthquake. Yet it is the author's "deep anxiety about the future"—the day a mag-8 hits California—"that pulls his narrative taut."

Stagecoach: Wells Fargo and the American West continues Fradkin's survey of the American West. Between 1870 and 1884, the Wells Fargo livery service "signified speed and reliability in a vast and lawless realm," as an Economist reviewer put it. The private-interest stagecoaches carried mail and parcels across the Old West, delivering to distant outposts that the government Postal Service could not reach. Stagecoach drivers faced uncertain terrain, hazardous weather, and the threat of robbers, "but surprisingly few coachmen died," according to the Economist writer. Customers paid for this service, of course—often two to three times more than they would for a U.S. Mail delivery. Fradkin "illustrates the vital role played by Wells Fargo in maintaining communication between the East and the Trans-Mississippi West," noted Booklistreviewer Jay Freeman. In taking the company's story from the stagecoach days to its present status as a major financial institution, noted a Publishers Weekly critic, the author contends "that in this age of instantly manufactured brands, Wells Fargo earned its marketing image of rugged pioneerism the hard way—through 150 years of struggle and corporate survival."

Fradkin once told CA: "That publications pay me to roam the American West and Alaska is a source of great satisfaction. I usually seek those places where man and his works are dwarfed by the awesomeness of nature and am mainly concerned about promoting the wise use of land and its resources which, in the West, are rapidly being depleted with little thought about the consequences. I am interested in the irrationality of this process, which is often best displayed in the political arena."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Alaska, November, 1993, Bill Hunt, review of Wanderings of an Environmental Journalist in Alaska and the American West, p. 79.

American Historical Review, December, 1990, review of Fallout: An American Nuclear Tragedy, p. 1652.

American Political Science Review, June, 1990, review of Fallout, p. 657.

American West, October, 1989, review of Sagebrush Country: Land and the American West, p. S7.

Antioch Review, summer, 1989, review of Fallout, p. 369.

Bloomsbury Review, July, 1989, review of Sagebrush Country, p. 8; September, 1997, review of The Seven States of California: A Natural and Human History, p. 22.

Booklist, February 1, 1989, review of Fallout, p. 900; May 1, 1989, review of Sagebrush Country, p. 1507; September 1, 1998, Bryce Christensen, review of Magnitude 8: Earthquakes and Life along the San Andreas Fault, p. 43; June 1, 2001, Patricia Monaghan, review of Wildest Alaska: Journeys of Great Peril in Lituya Bay, p. 1830; January 1, 2002, Jay Freeman, review of Stagecoach: Wells Fargo and the American West, p. 781; March 1, 2005, David Pritt, review of The Great Earthquake and Firestorms of 1906: How San Francisco Nearly Destroyed Itself, p. 1134.

Bookwatch, January, 1999, review of Magnitude 8, p. 9.

California Lawyer, June, 1989, review of Fallout, p. 80.

Choice, September, 1994, review of Fallout, p. 49; January, 1996, K. B. Raitz, review of The Seven States of California, p. 855.

Christian Science Monitor, August 10, 1981.

Discover, March, 1999, Kathy Svitil, review of Magnitude 8, p. 132.

Ecology Law Quarterly, February, 1998, Keith Bauerle, review of The Seven States of California, pp. 167-72.

Economist, January 19, 2002, review of Stagecoach.

Journalism Quarterly, spring, 1994, review of Wanderings of an Environmental Journalist in Alaska and the American West, p. 220.

Journal of Business Strategy, March, 2002, Bristol Lane Voss, review of Stagecoach, p. 43.

Journal of American History, September, 1998, Gregory King, review of The Seven States of California, p. 633.

Journal of the American Medical Association, August 4, 1989, Henry Wagner Jr., review of Fallout, p. 699.

Journal of the West, July, 1990, M. Zabeznsky, review of Fallout, p. 107.

Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 1989, review of Fallout, p. 28; March 1, 1989, review of Sagebrush Country, p. 352; February 15, 1993, review of Wanderings of an Environmental Journalist in Alaska and the American West, p. 196; May 15, 1995, October 8, 1995, review of The Seven States of California, p. 4; August 1, 1998, review of Magnitude 8, p. 1083; 685; December 1, 2001, review of Stagecoach, p. 1661.

Library Journal, March 1, 1989, Diane Brown, review of Fallout, p. 79; April 1, 1989, Brown, review of Sagebrush Country, p. 107; July, 1995, Tim Markus, review of The Seven States of California, p. 106; September 1, 1998, Gloria Maxwell, review of Magnitude 8, p. 209.

Los Angeles Times, February 17, 2002, Jonathan Kirsch, "West Words," p. R2.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, May 14, 1989, review of Fallout, p. 2; July 4, 1993, review of Wanderings of an Environmental Journalist in Alaska and the American West, p. 2; October 8, 1995, review of The Seven States of California, p. 4; July 11, 1999, review of Magnitude 8, p. 23.

National Geographic Adventure, September, 2001, Anthony Brandt, review of Wildest Alaska, p. 62.

New Republic, May 30, 1981, Wallace Stegner, review of A River No More: The Colorado River and the West.

Newsweek, May 1, 1989, David Gates, review of Sagebrush Country, p. 74.

New York Times Book Review, April 9, 1989, Keith Schneider, review of Fallout, p. 32; September 7, 1997, review of The Seven States of California, p. 40.

Pacific Historical Review, August, 1983, review of A River No More, p. 337.

Publishers Weekly, January 13, 1989, Genevieve Stuttaford, review of Fallout, p. 82; March 17, 1989, Stuttaford, review of Sagebrush Country, p. 84; February 22, 1993, review of Wanderings of an Environmental Journalist in Alaska and the American West, p. 74; May 29, 1995, review of The Seven States of California, p. 73; September 21, 1998, review of Magnitude 8, p. 64; January 14, 2002, review of Stagecoach, p. 50.

Quarterly Review of Biology, September, 1996, Robert Lackey, review of The Seven States of California, p. 429.

Reference and Research Book News, June, 1989, review of Fallout, p. 32; November, 1993, review of Wanderings of an Environmental Journalist in Alaska and the American West, p. 13.

San Francisco Review of Books, March, 1993, review of Wanderings of an Environmental Journalist in Alaska and the American West, p. 37.

SciTech Book News, May, 1989, review of Fallout, p. 32.

Technology and Culture, April, 1990, Barton Hacker, review of Fallout, p. 344.

Washington Post, February 7, 2002, Jonathan Yardley, "How the West Was Run," p. C02.

Washington Post Book World, September 5, 1993, review of Wanderings of an Environmental Journalist in Alaska and the American West, p. 13; August 13, 1995, review of The Seven States of California, p. 13.

Western Historical Quarterly, May, 1990, David Robrock, review of Fallout, p. 222; August, 1990, review of Sagebrush Country, p. 354; summer, 1994, Mark W. T. Harvey, review of Wanderings of an Environmental Journalist in Alaska and the American West, p. 243.

Whole Earth Review, spring, 1990, Randolph Delehanty, review of Fallout, p. 55.

Wilderness, fall, 1989, Charles Little, review of Sagebrush Country, p. 53.

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