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City Of Quartz: Excavating The Future In Los Angeles

Davis, Mike

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ISBN 10: 0860913031 / ISBN 13: 9780860913030
Published by Verso, 1991
Condition: Very Good In Dustjacket Hardcover
From zenosbooks (San Francisco, CA, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

New York. 1991. Verso. 1st American Edition. Very Good In Dustjacket. 45. 462 pages. November 1990. hardcover. Jacket designed by Paul Burcher. Photograph by Robert Morrow shows Metropolitan Detention Center, Downtown L.A. 0860913031. keywords:. inventory # 30283. FROM THE PUBLISHER - ‘The ultimate world historical significance - and oddity - of Los Angeles is that it has come to play the double role of utopia and dystopia for advanced capitalism. The same place, as Brecht noted, symbolizes both heaven and hell. Correspondingly, it is an essential destination on the itinerary of any late-twentieth-century intellectual, who must eventually come to take a peep and render some opinion on whether ‘Los Angeles Brings It All Together’ (the city’s official slogan) or is, rather, the Nightmare at the terminus of American history. In this taut and compulsive exploration, Mike Davis recounts the story of Los Angeles with passion, wit and an acute eye for the absurd, the unjust and, often, the dangerous. As the Joshua trees are ripped from the desert by developers of walled communities protected by ‘armed response’ security, as yet more concrete is poured to defend Japanese real estate from desperate migrants without work or hope, as a stew of greed, megalomania and corruption wreaks ever more havoc on his native city, Davis’s elegiac tale points to a future in which the sublime and the dreadful are inextricable. That future does not belong to Southern California alone. Terrifyingly, it belongs to us all. Unlike most writers on Southern California, Mike Davis is a native son. He was born in Fontana in 1946 and grew up in Bostonia, a now ‘lost’ hamlet east of San Diego. A former meatcutter and long-distance truckdriver, he teaches urban theory at the Southern California Institute of Architecture. He is co-editor of The Year Left: An American Socialist Yearbook and author of Prisoners of the American Dream (Verso 1986). He is married with one child. A native Minnesotan, Robert Morrow finds that the ice-fishing in Southern California leaves something to be desired. He has compensated by taking photographs of rifle ranges, barbed wire, bullet-ridden police cars, derelict factories, big dogs, and other symbols of daily life in Los Angeles’s suburban badlands. . Bookseller Inventory # 30283

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Bibliographic Details

Title: City Of Quartz: Excavating The Future In Los...

Publisher: Verso

Publication Date: 1991

Binding: hardcover

Book Condition:Very Good In Dustjacket

Edition: 1st Edition.

About this title


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 Westa city in which we may glimpse our own future mirrored with terrifying clarity.


Mike Davis peers into a looking glass to divine the future of Los Angeles, and what he sees is not encouraging: a city--or better, a concatenation of competing city states--torn by racial enmity, economic disparity, and social anomie. Looking backward, Davis suggests that Los Angeles has always been contested ground. In the 1840s, he writes, a combination of drought and industrial stock raising led to the destruction of small-scale Spanish farming in the region. In the 1910s, Los Angeles was the scene of a bitter conflict between management and industrial workers, so bitter that the publisher of the Los Angeles Times retreated to a heavily fortified home he called "The Bivouac." And in 1992, much of the city fell before flames and riot in a scenario Davis describes as thus: "Gangs are multiplying at a terrifying rate, cops are becoming more arrogant and trigger-happy, and a whole generation is being shunted toward some impossible Armageddon." Davis's voice-in-a-whirlwind approach to the past, present, and future of Los Angeles is alarming and arresting, and his book is essential reading for anyone interested in contemporary affairs. --Gregory MacNamee

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