Sep 15 • 31M

#361: “How much was magic? How much was plunder?”

An interview with Mark Arax, author of “A Kingdom from Dust”

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Ever drank a bottle of Fiji water? Or a glass of pomegranate juice? Maybe you prefer nuts — like maybe almonds? Or pistachios, perhaps?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, you support the empire of billionaires Stewart and Lynda Resnick, the king and queen of California agriculture, who control not only hundreds of thousands of acres of land, but also billions of gallons of water every year, not to mention the livelihoods of thousands of mostly undocumented people who work in their fields and live in their company town.

This month at Article Club, we’ve been diving into “A Kingdom From Dust,” by Mark Arax — a big, bold, outstanding piece about the magic and plunder of California. I’ve been hearing from many of you about how much you are appreciating the article. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly encourage you to do so. And if you find the piece moving, I urge you to sign up for our online discussion on Sept. 25 at 2 pm PT.

Sign up for the discussion!

I’m very honored to announce that this week’s issue of The Highlighter is dedicated to a conversation I had with Mr. Arax a few days ago. You can listen to it here (by pressing play) or on your favorite podcast app. Mr. Arax was generous and thoughtful in answering our questions. We talked about a range of topics, including:

  • his love-hate relationship with California

  • how water politics determine who succeeds and who suffers in the state

  • how meeting William Saroyan influenced his writing

  • how he approaches reporting with compassion and nuance

  • what we need to do to make sure California survives

I hope you take a listen, whether or not you’ve already read “A Kingdom from Dust.” Hearing from Mr. Arax made me proud to be a Californian, even if our state is facing potentially catastrophic climate calamity.

The interview also got me excited to order Mr. Arax’s latest book, The Dreamt Land: Chasing Water and Dust Across California, which received rave reviews, including recommendations from Linda Ronstadt and Mark Bittman.

I’d love to hear what you think of the conversation! Feel free to leave a comment here. What was thought provoking? What surprised you?

Thank you for reading this week’s issue of The Highlighter Article Club. Hope you liked it. Feel free to share your thoughts and feedback. All you need to do is hit reply, email me, or leave me a voice message.

To our six new subscribers – including Tamar, Rashid, Bianca, and Chris – I hope you find the newsletter a solid addition to your email inbox. To our long-time subscribers (Aaron! Anjali! Andrea!), you’re pretty great, too. VIP Corinne, thank you for sharing the newsletter and getting the word out.

On the other hand, if you no longer want to receive this newsletter, please feel free to unsubscribe. See you next Thursday at 9:10 am PT!