The Elusive Eden charts the historical development of California, beginning with the evolution of the landscape and climate and the arrival of the first inhabitants, the Indians, through social, political, and environmental controversies of the present and the future. The book portrays a land of remarkable richness and complexity, settled by waves of people from diverse cultures. The text is organized chronologically into 10 parts, each developing a major theme or issue for a particular period in California's history. The first chapter of each part is a narrative that spotlights and dramatizes the personal responses of significant individuals at critical moments of historical change. The authors stress issues of current importance such as: ethnic groups, women, environmental history and social and cultural history.