Palo Alto’s ghosts, with Malcolm Harris
The author and friend of the pod joins Jay to discuss his new book on petty capitalists, the New Left, and what’s really going on in Silicon Valley
Hello from the Bay Area!
This week, it’s just Jay speaking with Malcolm Harris, the author of the recently published Palo Alto: A History of California, Capitalism, and the World. We talk about [5:40] why Malcolm wrote a 600-plus-page epic instead of a shorter, more personal book; [27:25] Palo Alto’s origin story, including Leland Stanford and immigrant labor on the railroads; and [43:20] what mainstream histories get wrong about the New Left and Silicon Valley’s development. (Heads-up: There is a brief discussion of suicide between 11:30 and 14:10.)
In this episode, we ask:
Why does Palo Alto give off such a weird vibe, and how does Stanford University's approach to real estate contribute?
What did Jay and his daughter learn about the exploitation of Chinese rail workers at the California State Railroad Museum?
Is Malcolm worried that AI could take his job?
For more, read:
Malcolm’s colossal Palo Alto: A History of California, Capitalism, and the World
An archetypal business book: Barbarians at the Gate, by Bryan Burrough & John Helyar
Mae Ngai’s book on Chinese migration and the gold rush, The Chinese Question—and listen to Andy’s episode with Mae! 'History is not a straight line': on the Chinese Question with Prof. Mae Ngai