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(NEW EDITION) City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles [Paperback]

Mike Davis
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

4 Sep 2006
No metropolis has been more loved or more hated. To its official boosters, "Los Angeles brings it all together." To detractors, LA is a sunlit mortuary where "you can rot without feeling it." To Mike Davis, the author of this fiercely elegant and wide-ranging work of social history, Los Angeles is both utopia and dystopia, a place where the last Joshua trees are being plowed under to make room for model communities in the desert, where the rich have hired their own police to fend off street gangs, as well as armed Beirut militias. In "City of Quartz", Davis reconstructs LA's shadow history and dissects its ethereal economy. He tells us who has the power and how they hold on to it. He gives us a city of Dickensian extremes, Pynchonesque conspiracies, and a desperation straight out of Nathaniel West-a city in which we may glimpse our own future, mirrored with terrifying clarity. In this special 15-year anniversary edition, Davis provides a dazzling update on the city's current status.

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(NEW EDITION) City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles + Planet of Slums
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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Verso Books; New Edition edition (4 Sep 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844675688
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844675685
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 14 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 105,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"An extraordinary book- tumultuous and brilliant." - Jonathan Kozol "A history as fascinating as it is instructive." - Peter Ackroyd, The Times

About the Author

MacArthur Fellow Mike Davis lives in San Diego. He is the author of many books including Ecology of Fear, The Monster at Our Door and Planet of Slums.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Radical history of Los Angeles 11 May 2009
Format:Paperback
Davis is well-known in radical circles as a popular writer on various issues relating to labor movements and the like. This is essentially a history of the city of Los Angeles and its surroundings from a radical perspective. It's quite well-done and very informative (at least to an ignoramus like me), but Davis goes overboard now and then in seeing a conspiracy to repress the poor behind everything. He also has the tendency to call historical incidences of repression a "holocaust" (he actually uses this word multiple times for different things), which I don't like being used in this manner. Aside from that though, it's a welcome different approach from the usual hagiographic or hip postmodern analyses of conglomeration cities like LA. There's not much more I can say about it, as whether you like his left-wing critical vignettes or not will be mostly a matter of taste - judge it for yourself.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Needed for my son's Geography AS 12 May 2014
By Sian
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Well he got an A so this must have helped and it was cited in his Uni personal statement which got him 5 offers without interview so must have been a good buy! Took ages to arrive though.
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Amazon.com: 3.5 out of 5 stars  17 reviews
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A provocative (but over-reaching) essay on urban inequality 23 Dec 2008
By J. C. Dixon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Several years ago I picked this book up on a business trip to L.A. and couldn't put it down. Since then I've become an armchair aficionado of L.A./Southland history and returned to explore the area as often as I can afford. This book has to be compared to the likes of Heidi and Alvin Toffler's "Third Wave" and so forth. It's part essay, part history, and part futurism. As with the "Third Wave" it's full of breathless pronouncements of WHAT HAS BEEN and WHAT WILL BE--except this is more of a dystopian nightmare. Like it or not, L.A. has been the most important city in America--probably the world--since World War Two. This comes thanks to the advent of TV, which sold the world on "fun in the sun." So, if you want to read one grand pronouncement on the darkest possible outcome of modern urban inequality, this is a good one. Just figure it won't turn out as badly as he predicts. Mike Davis is like a stopped clock of the analog variety. He's going to be right twice a day. But it sure is fun to read him going on about it.
37 of 50 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Radical history of Los Angeles 25 Feb 2007
By M. A. Krul - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Davis is well-known in radical circles as a popular writer on various issues relating to labor movements and the like. This is essentially a history of the city of Los Angeles and its surroundings from a radical perspective. It's quite well-done and very informative (at least to an ignoramus like me), but Davis goes overboard now and then in seeing a conspiracy to repress the poor behind everything. He also has the tendency to call historical incidences of repression a "holocaust" (he actually uses this word multiple times for different things), which I don't like being used in this manner. Aside from that though, it's a welcome different approach from the usual hagiographic or hip postmodern analyses of conglomeration cities like LA. There's not much more I can say about it, as whether you like his left-wing critical vignettes or not will be mostly a matter of taste - judge it for yourself.
19 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars city of quartz , new edition 19 Sep 2007
By Dr. Donald Cramer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
City of Quartz, the original version, is an excellent book on the history of Los Angeles until 1989, well readable, informative and incisive, a must-read even if some people take offense at views which are neither mainstream nor conservative.
When you finish the book you are very curious as to how that author would write about the years since 1989.
That book still needs to be written.
But in an extensive foreword to this new edition many aspects of the most recent history of the most fascinating metropolis on the planet are touched, the Watts riots and whatnot; obviously there is much more and whoever follows what Davis writes in journals about Katrina-torn New Orleans and other hot topics, google his books !, can't wait until a new, extensively updated "City of Quartz" will be out.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Maybe not the best place to start if you've never been to L.A. or California for that matter 5 Mar 2012
By jafrank - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I found this really difficult to get through. While Davis's approach is very wide ranging and comprehensive, I often found myself struggling to keep up with all of the historical examples and various people mentioned in this account. Having never been there myself and knowing next to nothing about the area's history, I often felt myself overwhelmed, struggling to keep track of the various people and institutions that helped shape such a fractured, peculiarly American locale. I think it would have helped if I'd read a more general history of the region first before diving into something this intricately informed about its subject
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The process of becoming 21 July 2013
By James Levy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
City of Quartz is one of the top 20 books I've ever read. It penetrates the fog that so often surrounds how a thing becomes that which we know. In this case, he illuminates the creation and recreation of Los Angeles, as an idea and a built space. Davis nicely combines the materialist eye of a Marxian with the intellectual awareness of a grounded post-modernist to catch both the ways Los Angeles has operated as a vehicle for capital accumulation and been sold as a cure-all and a dream. Los Angeles is explicated as the model for the real estate capitalism that came to play such a dominant part in the American economy (and which all the kings horses and men are still trying to put back together again after 2007) and our automobile-centric consumer culture. Although it plays a part in his narrative, Hollywood and it's "dream machine" do not suck all the air out of the tale. Davis knows the city too well to let Hollywood swallow his story. And he respects it too much to tie it all up in too neat a bow. He leaves space for the reader to consider, contemplate, and draw his own conclusions. I cannot reccomend this book too highly.
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