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Los Angeles: Portrait of a City Hardcover – October 1, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-3836502917 ISBN-10: 3836502917 Edition: Mul

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 572 pages
  • Publisher: TASCHEN America Llc; Mul edition (October 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 3836502917
  • ISBN-13: 978-3836502917
  • Product Dimensions: 3 x 8 x 12 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,262 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Cultural anthropologist and graphic design historian Jim Heimann is Executive Editor for TASCHEN America, and author of numerous books on architecture, pop culture, and the history of the West Coast, Los Angeles, and Hollywood. His unrivaled private collection of ephemera has been featured in museum exhibitions around the world and in dozens of books.

David L. Ulin is the books editor of the Los Angeles Times. He is the author of "The Myth of Solid Ground: Earthquakes, Prediction, and the Fault Line Between Reason and Faith," and the editor of "Another City: Writing from Los Angeles" and "Writing Los Angeles: A Literary Anthology." He has written for The Atlantic Monthly, The Nation, and The New York Times Book Review.

Kevin Starr holds a PhD from Harvard University and is Professor of History at the University of Southern California. His many articles and books have won him a Guggenheim Fellowship, Gold and Silver Medals of the Commonwealth Club, the Centennial Medal from Harvard, and the Humanities Medal from the National Endowment of the Humanities.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Every time a person comes over, the first thing they grab is this book and start flipping through it.
History Buff
Kevin Starr is a master at conveying great meaning through evocation, the choice detail, a grasp of the big picture that brings home the photos in a powerful way.
Randall L. Wilson
The quality of the photos in this volume is outrageously good and the choice of images is the very best.
M. Davison

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Robin Benson on November 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover
At last, the city at the end of the rainbow gets the Taschen treatment: a large, chunky, 570 page, visual history. This is more than just an ordinary picture book though because so many of the photos, after the Thirties, have been taken by named photographers (there are biographies of thirty-nine of them at the back of the book) and it's the mixing of their work and anonymous photos that I thought gave the book a special feel. Another interesting theme reflects the creativity of the city with the use of quotes from well-known historical books and movies that appear throughout the pages, nicely with a graphic of the jacket or poster.

Having looked through the pages a few times it does seem amazingly comprehensive. The seven chapters run from 1862 to the last photo in 2005. Each starts with a several hundred word overview followed by a spread with a period map then by captioned photos. Cultural, political and sports personalities, architecture (including street scenes plus industry) and historic news photos are the dominant themes and I thought the selection was rather impressive, there doesn't seem to be any image that would make me say "Just why is that one included".

What I really love about the book is its big page size. Pin-sharp photos from before 1940 are frequently run over a spread and look terrific as do news photos from later decades (all printed with a 175 screen). Tying in with the historical book and movie links throughout the book the back pages carry a recommended list of viewing, listening and reading material that sum up this intriguing city.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Eugenie L. Birch on November 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
To a life-long New Yorker, Los Angeles is a foreign country, filled with vivid impressions -- warm all the time, unseemly pink and tourqouise neon pillars at the airport, lush vegetation, endless freeways, glittering Disney Center, lovely bungalow neighborhoods, downtown that stretches to Santa Monica, Hollywood emblazoned on the hill, Century City sprouting from somewhere, the Getty Center gleaming from its perch, Wilshire Boulevard marching through time and linking it all together, mammouth city hall, nostalgic Union Station, pinata and flower markets, new rapid transit, cars, cars, cars.... Of course, we all have mental images of the place, products of the media -- cops, movie stars, immigrants, water wars -- that shape a superficial understanding of LA. But in many ways it's a hard-to-navigate place -- I am not talking about the famed transportation routes, but about its culture and history. For the discerning visitor, there are visual hints of the past, wonderful surprises in the canyons and a shadow of a long-gone community here and there, but its full imprint is gone. At least it was gone until Los Angeles, Portrait of a City appeared this fall.

Here, the city unfurls in word (Kevin Starr is simply brilliant) and in image (Jim Heimann's selections, extraordinary). We can see who made the city what it is today. We can sense the hopes, drive and ambition of its inhabitants over time and view its developing and ever-changing landscape. This book is a masterpiece.It makes the city no longer hard-to-navigate, no longer a foreign country but a beloved American icon.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Ryan on December 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I am a Northern California native, but moved to Los Angeles 10 years ago. This is a great book for anyone who wants to know more about a city that is often accused, mostly by outsiders, of being shallow, one-dimensional or soulless. It provides a unique glimpse into the real Los Angeles, one that is rich in history, complex and ever-changing. Great book. Highly recommended...
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Joshua on December 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover
As a Los Angeles history buff, I have many books on the city but this one is truly special. It is not the same tired collection of photographs you have seen in so many other publications. Taschen has collected unique images of all the sites you have always wondered about or have seen remnants of. I am particularly fond of the vintage maps which are truly inspiring. Moreover, Taschen's well known large image format creates an amazing and unique experience for the reader. Jim Heimann has really done it! It's truly a special book.
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18 of 24 people found the following review helpful By BlogOnBooks on December 31, 2009
Format: Hardcover
As long time Angelenos, we were certainly excited to receive our invitation to Taschen Books headquarters for the new release party for their latest coffee table opus `Los Angeles - Portrait of a City.' While partying with the Hollywood elite (Diane Keaton, Hugh Hefner, Jerry Bruckheimer, David LaChappell, Rodney Bingenheimer, various politicos, etc.) and being serenaded by hometown music from the Doors, Mamas and Papas, the Go-Go's and others, we celebrated the release of Jim Heimann and Kevin Starr's new 572 page exhibition of the colorful photographic history of the Los Angeles basin.
In this heavyweight book, readers are treated to nearly all the glorious history of the City of Angels from it's very beginnings as an oil and orange grove mecca, thru the war years, the Hollywood years, the earthquakes, the riots and beyond. And while the book chronicles numerous LA icons (the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Neutra, Frank Gehry and the Case Study House; the famous buildings of Ciro's, the Brown Derby, the Hollywood Bowl, Capitol Records, Grauman's Chinese, the Beverly Hills Hotel, the Watts Towers, as well as the Dodgers arrival at the L.A. Coliseum, JFK's 1960 convention, RFK's assassination, OJ's car chase, Rodney King and more...) as well as the world famous personalities (the MGM players, James Dean, Cecil B. DeMille, Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, the Beach Boys, Hugh Hefner and Joni Mitchell) and artists (Billy Al Bengston, Dennis Hopper, Helmut Newton, David Hockney's pool at the Hollywood Roosevelt and clips from Ed Ruscha's masterpiece `Every Building on the Sunset Strip, 1966'), there are still significant gaps in the author's coverage.
One does wonder where some of the more recent luminaries of LA disappeared to within these pages.
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