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Imperial
WILLIAM T. VOLLMANN

Imperial by William T. Vollmann
15 reviews (2009) (1344p)
National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction Finalist

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Book Description
An epic study of an emblematic American region by one of our most celebrated writers

It sprawls across a stinking artificial sea, across the deserts, date groves, and labor camps of southeastern California, right across the Mexican border. For generations of migrant workers, from Okies fleeing the Dust Bowl of the 1930s to Mexican laborers today, Imperial County has held the promise of paradise—and the reality of hell. It is a land beautiful and harsh, enticing and deadly, rich in history and heartbreak. Across the border, the desert is the same but there are different secrets. In Imperial, award-winning writer William T. Vollmann takes us deep into the heart of this haunted region, and by extension into the dark soul of American imperialism.

Known for his penetrating meditations on poverty and violence, Vollmann has spent ten years doggedly investigating every facet of this bi-national locus, raiding archives, exploring polluted rivers, guarded factories, and Chinese tunnels, talking with everyone from farmers to border patrolmen in his search for the fading American dream and its Mexican equivalent. The result is a majestic book that addresses current debates on immigration, agribusiness, and corporate exploitation, issues that will define AmericaÂ's identity in the twenty-first century.


Amazon.com Review
Amazon Best of the Month, August 2009: How do you describe a 1,300-page book in 150 words? Start with adjectives (some of them opposites): vast, intrepid, passionate, and yes, sometimes dull, illuminating and infuriating, satirical and confessional, exhausting and exhaustive, dirty, fertile, and dry. William T. Vollmann, legendary for his huge, all-consuming books of fiction, history, and reporting, has spent much of the past ten years returning obsessively to one of the harshest but most contested territories in North America, the desert borderlands of southeastern California and northern Mexico he calls Imperial. Wading through water-use arcana, agri-booster archives, and centuries of colonial history; listening to lettuce farmers, motel clerks, and dance-hall hostesses; and crossing the border hundreds of times (while meeting those who cross via other means, and those who try to stop them), Vollmann has written an intensely personal fever dream of an encyclopedia that makes a strange, northern companion to last year's giant borderlands masterpiece, Roberto Bolano's 2666. --Tom Nissley


Other Award Winning Books by William T. Vollmann
Europe Central by William T. Vollmann
42 reviews (2005) (832p) (NBCCA) (NBA)
Read Reviews | Visit this book's Amazon.com page
Rising Up and Rising Down by William T. Vollmann
14 reviews (2003) (752p) (NBCCA Non)
Read Reviews | Visit this book's Amazon.com page
The Rifles by William T. Vollmann
  reviews (1994) (432p) (LATimes)
Read Reviews | Visit this book's Amazon.com page

William T. Vollmann Award Stats
Major Prize* Nominations 4  
Unique Books Nominated for a Major Prize* 3  
Pulitzer Prize Wins 0  
Pulitzer Prize Nominations 0  
National Book Critics Circle Award Wins 0  
National Book Critics Circle Award Nominations 3 Europe Central · Rising Up and Rising Down · Imperial ·  
National Book Award Wins 1 Europe Central ·  
National Book Award Nominations 1 Europe Central ·  
Man Booker Prize Wins 0  
Man Booker Prize Nominations 0  
PEN/Faulkner Award Wins 0  
PEN/Faulkner Award Nominations 0  

*Major Prize = Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award, National Book Award, Man Booker Prize, and PEN/Faulkner Award

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