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Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster

Davis, Mike [SIGNED]

946 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0805051066 / ISBN 13: 9780805051063
Published by Metropolitan Books, 1998
Condition: Very Good + Hardcover
From Taos Books (Santa Fe, NM, U.S.A.)

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Signed by Author Signed by Author Signed by Author Second print, signed by Davis on first page, gift inscription (not by Davis) on dedication page in ink, text tight clean and unmarked, appears unread, dust jacket shows some wrinkling along edges and ordinary mild shelf wear, 484 pages from the author of City of Quartz. Bookseller Inventory # 18113

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the ...

Publisher: Metropolitan Books

Publication Date: 1998

Binding: Hard Cover

Book Condition:Very Good +

Dust Jacket Condition: Good ++

Signed: Signed by Author

About this title

Synopsis:

A powerful glimpse into the history of disaster in Los Angeles, both real or imagined, argues that the most destructive forces are the many movies and books depicting this city as a veritable hotbed of riots, fires, floods, and earthquakes as well as an apocalyptic locale. 35,000 first printing. Tour.

Review:

The 1990s have not been kind to Los Angeles. As Mike Davis writes, "The destructive February 1992, January 1993, and January 1995 floods ($500 million in damage) were mere brackets around the April 1992 insurrection ($1 billion), the October-November 1993 firestorms ($1 billion) and the January 1994 earthquake ($42 billion)." But, he argues, the increasing fear about nature's reign of terror in Southern California reflected in Hollywood's preoccupation with apocalypse--L.A. has been destroyed on screen by everything from lava (Volcano) to nukes (Miracle Mile) to alien death rays (Independence Day)--is in reality a strong case of denial. Again, Davis himself says it best: "For generations, market-driven urbanization has transgressed environmental common sense. Historic wildfire corridors have been turned into view-lot suburbs, wetland liquefaction zones into marinas, and floodplains into industrial districts and housing tracts. Monolithic public works have been substituted for regional planning and a responsible land ethic. As a result, Southern California has reaped flood, fire, and earthquake tragedies that were as avoidable, as unnatural, as the beating of Rodney King and the ensuing explosion in the streets."

As in City of Quartz, his earlier book about Los Angeles, Davis reveals the deeper ideological narratives behind historical events. Whether he's explaining the motivations behind the persistent refusal of civic leaders to admit that a tornado alley runs down the middle of the region, from Long Beach to Pasadena, or discussing, as one chapter refers to it, "the case for letting Malibu burn," he outlines his arguments with a fascinating amount of detail and a subtle sense of irony. There are wonderful chapters here, such as "Maneaters of the Sierra Madre," a zoology of the wild beasts Angelenos fear, including mountain lions that descend from the hills to eat joggers and small children, swarms of Africanized killer bees making their way across the deserts, and El Chupacabra, the "goat-sucking vampire" that joined L.A.'s roster of faddish icons in 1996.

Although this book is specifically about Los Angeles, its lessons about the relationship between urban developments and natural ecosystems and about the dangerous influence of class politics on environmental safety policy are applicable to any city. Anyone with a serious interest in natural history or urban policy should make a point of reading this book. --Ron Hogan

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