Shockingly relevant for a 30-some year old book, Davis’s masterpiece is required reading for any Angeleno or recent arrival that wants to have a grasp on the inner workings and history of the bizarre and unique land known as Los Angeles. This book almost singlehandedly created the desire for and the output of literature on the multiplicity of cultures and political influences that is LA. A Marxist scholar and native of SoCal, Davis brings a passionate style and perspective to his dissection of the city that, like most of us who spend any significant time here, he both loves and hates. Raising questions about LA that you probably never thought to ask, City of Quartz will permanently change the way you see the City of Angels.
This new edition of the visionary social history of Los Angeles is “as central to the L.A. canon as anything that . . . Joan Didion wrote in the seventies” (New Yorker)
No metropolis has been more loved or more hated. To its official boosters, “Los Angeles brings it all together.” To detractors, L.A. 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 L.A.’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 new edition, Davis provides a dazzling update on the city’s current status.
About the Author
Mike Davis is the author of several books including City of Quartz, The Monster at Our Door, Buda’s Wagon, and Planet of Slums. He is the recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship and the Lannan Literary Award. He lives in San Diego.
“Davis’ work is the cruel and perpetual folly of the ruling elites.” —New York Times
“As central to the L.A. canon as anything that Carey McWilliams wrote in the forties or Joan Didion wrote in the seventies.” —Dana Goodyear, New Yorker
“Los Angeles faces a perilous millennium whose emerging contours will surely have no more brilliant prophet or historian than Davis.” —Alexander Cockburn
“A history as fascinating as it is instructive.” —Peter Ackroyd, The Times
“At once intensely intellectual and visceral.” —Contemporary Sociology
“Absolutely fascinating.” —William Gibson
“Even as he offers vivid street-smart reportage (and frequently breathtaking prose), Davis projects a distinctive historical vision.” —Adam Shatz, Lingua Franca
“Few books shed as much light on their subjects as this opinionated and original excavation of Los Angeles from the mythical debris of its past and future.” —San Francisco Examiner
“Angelenos, now is the time to lean into Mike Davis’s apocalyptic, passionate, radical rants on the sprawling, gorgeous mess that is Los Angeles.” —Stephanie Danler, author of Stray and Sweetbitter
“City of Quartz deserves to be emancipated from its parochial legacy … [It is] a working theory of global cities writ large, with as much to teach us about multiculturalism as it does racial apartheid in Los Angeles.” —David Helps, Los Angeles Review of Books
“A wildly original analysis of the city on the threshold of the new millennium, the book synthesized knowledge about Los Angeles’s history, politics, culture, architecture, policing, immigration, and more, painting a dark picture that embodied a kind of American urban dystopia on steroids after the nightmare of Reaganism and the ‘developers’ millennium.’” —Micah Uetricht, The Nation