THE TOUGHEST KID WE KNEW: THE OLD NEW WEST

A PERSONAL HISTORY

AN EXPLORATION OF RANCH AND
SMALL-TOWN LIFE IN CALIFORNIA’S SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY

Author portrait by Madeline Bergon

“In elegant prose, Frank Bergon has conjured a complex portrait of the San Joaquin Valley of California during the mid-1950s and beyond, where some ninety distinct ethnic communities lived together for a century, his own valley family being Basque as were his beloved grandparents in Nevada. The Toughest Kid We Knew is one of the best literary memoirs written, focusing on the particular while evoking universal human experience.”ROXANNE DUNBAR-ORTIZ, author of Red Dirt: Growing Up Okie

“These essays are masterfully crafted. Frank Bergon has a real strength for giving just the right details for us to get a sense of the people he writes about, with a touch of humor, a touch of sadness. As one who has traveled through the San Joaquin Valley several times, but has never read a memoir from there, I found the book captivating, deepening my knowledge of the place and its history.”
DARYL FARMER, author of Where We Land: Stories

The Toughest Kid We Knew is a magnificent book about the American West and a multigenerational family’s ties to its ancestral homeland and to the daunting land of the San Joaquin Valley. Frank Bergon has delivered a literary bounty. I don’t think a page went by without an observation, insight, or detail that somehow sparked my imagination or stayed with me long after I’d turned the page. I loved spending time with these remarkable people in this unforgettable place.”
MEGHAN DAUM, author of The Problem with Everything: My Journey Through the New Culture Wars