Publisher: Vintage, 1990
City of Quartz
Excavating the Future in Los Angeles
by Mike Davis
City of Quartz covers the history of Los Angeles’ modern era. What sets this book apart from other histories of Los Angeles, is that Davis devotes much time to the history of Los Angeles’ street gangs, a culture that has become synonymous with Los Angeles. It was and still is the most thorough history of Los Angeles street gangs going back to the 1940s up through the development of the Crips and Bloods. If you are researching gangs, trying to unravel its formation process, and just want to learn about the diverse city of Los Angeles, this is a must read.
In this excellent book on Los Angeles, Davis reconstructs the city’s “shadow” history, analyzes its economy, and brilliantly reveals the power relationships that exist behind the scenes. From the offshore Japanese capital to the local gangs, from the L.A. Police Department to the homeless people on the streets, the author introduces most of the players in the life of the city, both the powerless and those who run the show. City of Quartz is a masterful account of how real and paranoid fear plays a role in the deconstruction of the city’s public sphere to secure its “chosen people.” Davis argues that authoritarian control of the public space, the fragmentation of the landscape caused by the physical “protection” and isolation of specific areas, and the growing use of surveillance cameras are leading to a militarization of the landscape. Davis, as a native son, affectionately criticizes the city where the past has been erased, dreams have failed, and the image rarely maps into reality–the city that so many Americans love to hate. Softback: 462 pages