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Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster

by Mike Davis

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694633,538 (4.06)12
A witty and engrossing look at Los Angeles' urban ecology and the city's place in America's cultural fantasies Earthquakes. Wildfires. Floods. Drought. Tornadoes. Snakes in the sea, mountain lions, and a plague of bees. In this controversial tour de force of scholarship, unsparing vision, and inspired writing, Mike Davis, the author of City of Quartz, revisits Los Angeles as a Book of the Apocalypse theme park. By brilliantly juxtaposing L.A.'s fragile natural ecology with its disastrous environmental and social history, he compellingly shows a city deliberately put in harm's way by land developers, builders, and politicians, even as the incalculable toll of inevitable future catastrophe continues to accumulate. Counterpointing L.A.'s central role in America's fantasy life--the city has been destroyed no less than 138 times in novels and films since 1909--with its wanton denial of its own real history, Davis creates a revelatory kaleidoscope of American fact, imagery, and sensibility. Drawing upon a vast array of sources, Ecology of Fear meticulously captures the nation's violent malaise and desperate social unease at the millennial end of "the American century." With savagely entertaining wit and compassionate rage, this book conducts a devastating reconnaissance of our all-too-likely urban future.… (more)
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» See also 12 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
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  pszolovits | Feb 3, 2021 |
Loved this book and City of Quartz. Highly recommended to anyone interested in LA or southern California.
( )
1 vote LaurieAE | Aug 22, 2013 |
This is an outstanding book with a wide appeal. I think everyone from people interested in the sociology of cities to science fiction fans to readers who wonder how humans can ignore obvious risks will find something in this book to like. It discusses many of the problems of Los Angeles including earthquakes, droughts, mudslides, unplanned urbanization, wildfires, tornadoes, wild animals and urban blight. In the middle he pauses to read every book and see every movie that depicts the destruction of Los Angeles. He breaks them down into categories and then discusses several from each group.

On top of having so much information, this book is a joy to read, moving along at a rapid pace and pulling the reader in. I have only two complaints which made me rate this 4 instead of 5. One, there isn't one cohesive over-riding thesis. Two, is that there is no bibliography so when you want more information (or the list of all the dystopian LA fiction), you have to ferret it out of the footnotes. ( )
3 vote aulsmith | Jan 12, 2011 |
Davis is a brainwashed rabid Marxist and uses natural disasters combined with convoluted reasoning and his dubious ethics to attack capitalism and wealthy people. Sometimes he does come to some valid conclusions, like his case for letting brush fires burn in Malibu but he does so for all the wrong reasons (his bitter desire to punish the wealthy instead of promoting individual preparedness and cost cutting on firefighting). Book is replete with recent California history of disasters, photos, and policy advocacy. Despite being an evil Marxist he brings up some good points and this book is thought provoking in a refreshing "think-outside-the-box," sort of way. ( )
  Chickenman | Sep 10, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
No place on Earth offers greater security to life and grater freedom from natural disasters than Southern California. --Los Angeles Times, 1934
Dedication
for my kids, Jack and Roisin
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Once or twice each decade, Hawaii sends Los Angeles a big, wet kiss.  (1, The Dialectic of Ordinary Disaster)
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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A witty and engrossing look at Los Angeles' urban ecology and the city's place in America's cultural fantasies Earthquakes. Wildfires. Floods. Drought. Tornadoes. Snakes in the sea, mountain lions, and a plague of bees. In this controversial tour de force of scholarship, unsparing vision, and inspired writing, Mike Davis, the author of City of Quartz, revisits Los Angeles as a Book of the Apocalypse theme park. By brilliantly juxtaposing L.A.'s fragile natural ecology with its disastrous environmental and social history, he compellingly shows a city deliberately put in harm's way by land developers, builders, and politicians, even as the incalculable toll of inevitable future catastrophe continues to accumulate. Counterpointing L.A.'s central role in America's fantasy life--the city has been destroyed no less than 138 times in novels and films since 1909--with its wanton denial of its own real history, Davis creates a revelatory kaleidoscope of American fact, imagery, and sensibility. Drawing upon a vast array of sources, Ecology of Fear meticulously captures the nation's violent malaise and desperate social unease at the millennial end of "the American century." With savagely entertaining wit and compassionate rage, this book conducts a devastating reconnaissance of our all-too-likely urban future.

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