A memoir of land, family and perseverance from one of the most influential writers in America. Didion's ancestors were pioneers, pushing westward to settle the vast lands of California, and with great pride, grit and graft, to turn that desert state into the fifth biggest economy in the world. What kind of people made that magic possible? In this moving and unexpected book, Joan Didion reassesses parts of her life, her work, her history, and America's. Where I Was From, in Didion's words, "represents an exploration into my own confusions about the place and the way in which I grew up, misapprehensions and misunderstandings so much a part of who I became that I can still to this day confront them only obliquely. " The book is a haunting narrative of how her own family moved west with the frontier from the birth of her great-great-great-great-great-grandmother in Virginia in 1766 to the death of her mother on the edge of the Pacific in 2001; of how the wagon-train stories of hardship and abandonment and endurance created a culture in which survival would seem the sole virtue.