History and Environmental Studies

$34.95 hardcover

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Mono Lake: From Dead Sea to Environmental Treasure

Abraham Hoffman

Mono Lake is one of the largest lakes in California, and Californians have been using it, enjoying it, and abusing it since nomadic northern Paiutes began hunting the lake’s vast bird populations. Controversy between environmentalists and the City of Los Angeles brought so much attention to Mono Lake in the late twentieth century that it became best known for its appearance on “Save Mono Lake” bumper stickers. This thoughtful study is the first book to explore the lake’s environmental and cultural history.

Hoffman writes about gold mining in the Mono Basin; the taking of birds and their eggs to supply food for miners and townspeople; a failed oil boom; efforts to develop recreational activities such as a state-operated marina, which also failed; catastrophes including plane crashes and the testing of bombs underwater; and litigation over the diversion of creeks flowing into the lake and the resulting decline in the lake level. A variety of photographs, some never before published, ranging from mining to motor boat races in the 1930s are also included.


Abraham Hoffman teaches history at Los Angeles Valley College.


“Hoffman tells of (the) efforts to exploit Mono Lake in exquisite style. The writing is elegant. The narrative line is clear and easy to follow. The stories emerge from a wealth of facts . . . gathered by Hoffman from a slew of primary sources. These sources include newspaper accounts, family diaries, and all manner of public and private material uncovered by the author in a wide-ranging and meticulous search.”


6 x 9 in. 184 pages 32 halftones, 2 maps