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The Reluctant Metropolis: The Politics of Urban Growth in Los Angeles [Paperback]

by William Fulton
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description

August 9, 2001 0801865069 978-0801865060

In twelve engaging essays, William Fulton chronicles the history of urban planning in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, tracing the legacy of short-sighted political and financial gains that has resulted in a vast urban region on the brink of disaster. Looking at such diverse topics as shady real estate speculations, the construction of the Los Angeles subway, the battle over the future of South Central L.A. after the 1992 riots, and the emergence of Las Vegas as "the new Los Angeles," Fulton offers a fresh perspective on the city's epic sprawl. The only way to reverse the historical trends that have made Los Angeles increasingly unliveable, Fulton concludes, is to confront the prevailing "cocoon citizenship," the mind-set that prevents the city's inhabitants and leaders from recognizing Los Angeles's patchwork of communities as a single metropolis.


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The Reluctant Metropolis: The Politics of Urban Growth in Los Angeles + Southland + Reinventing Los Angeles: Nature and Community in the Global City (Urban and Industrial Environments)
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Editorial Reviews

Review

The Reluctant Metropolis is a welcome addition to the growing literature of place. Bill Fulton brings verve and lucidity to the politics of land use, a mega-issue ready to explode in the years ahead.

(James Howard Kunstler, author of The Geography of Nowhere and Home from Nowhere)

A surprisingly lively case study of the battles and alliances of politics, business and people that formed—or deformed—a great American city.

(Publishers Weekly (starred review))

One of the most entertaining and thought-provoking books I have read in a long time about urban growth and change... Important reading for anyone interested in contemporary urban development. [Fulton] tells a story that may sound uniquely Los Angeles, but really applies to every growing city in America.

(Richard Peiser APA Journal)

From the Publisher

***"A surprisingly lively case study of the battles and alliances of politics, business and people that formed—or deformed—a great American city." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"The Reluctant Metropolis is a welcome addition to the growing literature of place. Bill Fulton brings verve and lucidity to the politics of land use, a mega-issue ready to explode in the years ahead."—James Howard Kunstler, author of The Geography of Nowhere and Home from Nowhere

"One of the most entertaining and thought-provoking books I have read in a long time about urban growth and change . . . Important reading for anyone interested in contemporary urban development. [Fulton] tells a story that may sound uniquely Los Angeles, but really applies to every growing city in America."—Richard Peiser, APA Journal


Product Details

  • Paperback: 424 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press (August 9, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801865069
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801865060
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #232,791 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
(13)
4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
The power of this book is the "up close and personal" portrait it gives of the people and events that shaped the modern era of Los Angeles and the sinking of the illusion of eternal land. What a story he tells, including naming the key players and their real estate interests, especially the complicit role of planning professionals and politicians.

Changes in the region take place so quickly that current events need a scorecard and a constant updating from this traveling historian who puts miles on his car that are needed just to keep up with it all, and to keep us conscious of what is happening before our eyes. Unlike many of the fashionably post-modern critics with their morbid fascination for the contradictions and the big picture, Fulton doesn't theorize or jargonize about the City. Like a hunter who tracks his prey by following all the little bent branches and signs of habitation, he takes us to the places that make up the region, Bell, Commerce, Lakewood, Lynwood, and like a good hunter, he does not stand apart from his prey. Fulton shows basic empathy for all the misguided professionals and greedy politicians who unconsciously and consciously sullied and exploited the region, as well as the naiveté and the shortage of savvy of some of its would be saviors.

Written like a compelling detective story, but one for which he does not have an ending, the book is a must for anyone who lives in the region. They will be both weighted down and enlightened by reading it, and for you people from other regions, for example burgeoning cities in the NIC regions of Asia, you best read it now to get an idea of what is coming your way!

George Rand, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Architecture and Planning

Graduate School of Architecture

UCLA
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So that's how it really is... August 26, 2002
Format:Paperback
This book is a must read for anyone willing to expose themselves to the stories behind the stories of Los Angeles. The stories reveal the apathetic and self-centered nature of some Los Angeles citizens (who will never really admit they are from "Los Angeles"), and sets the stage for an entire change of mindset among Los Angelenos. This mindset is one that takes notice of the community, and the larger metropolis that communities make up. For a graduate city planning student as I, these stories help shape some basic values of mine regarding the nature of cities and communities. I strongly recommend this book.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pasadena Star News Review, June 8, 1997 June 9, 1997
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
You and I aren't fools. We keep our eyes open. We follow the news. But the region where we live is so huge and complex. And changing so quickly. With short deadlines and tight budgets, most of what the media packages as "news" is not -- just old caricatures recycled with new names. Southern California is romanticized, demonized and satirized, because Southern California stereotypes make for great entertainment.

As amusement, this works. But half truths, myths and stereotypes make it virtually impossible to talk seriously about our region's future. Imagine trying to raise a child if all you had to go on was a video of the Hollywood movie, "Parenthood." The movie makes you laugh, it makes you cry. But it's useless for helping you figure out how to manage your family budget or what to do when your baby wakes up crying in the middle of the night.

That's our position as citizens, voters and taxpayers. Clueless. Not a problem -- if "Southern California" was just a soap opera. Or if we lived in a monarchy. But it's not and we don't.

Driving one rainy day from his home in Ventura County through "suburb after suburb, shopping center after shopping center and tract after tract," journalist and planner Bill Fulton began a journey of discovery that led him to write an extraordinary book called "The Reluctant Metropolis: The Politics of Urban Growth in Los Angeles." He calls it "an amalgamation of political science, history, sociology and urban planning" aimed at "telling good stories and ferreting out their meaning.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
Wow! William Fulton's look at the workings of Los Angeles government takes the reader on a trip through history to help discover how Los Angeles got to be how it is today. Many different case studies explore various elements of this "Reluctant" metropolis, such as the story of one particular block downtown, the fight with Las Vegas over water rights, how the urban transportation system came to be the way it is--and why it will never change, and how a college student singlehandedly and unintentionally changed the face of Ventura County politics forever. These are just a few of the fascinating tales William Fulton spins of Los Angeles. As a member of a Southern California transit advocacy group, I found the entire book hard to put down. After reading this well-written book, the reader should be more knowledgeable about the west's largest metropolis and how many elements come together to shape a region. I hope you enjoy this book with the same enthusiasm with which I did.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Southern California
Great book on understanding the growth patterns on southern california. Lot of information. I suggest skimming becuase it is a THICK book with small print.
Published 15 months ago by Ashley
5.0 out of 5 stars Learn urban history to avoid repeating it
Fulton is an expert on the history and political processes underlying the growth of Southern California over the last century, and he lays out how many of these same political... Read more
Published on March 7, 2007 by Adam Harpool
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Book Available on LA City Planning
Read this book! It is the best book I've read on development and growth in the LA basin. It's very well-written and incorporates both political and professional planning vantage... Read more
Published on March 7, 2007 by John Clark
2.0 out of 5 stars Fulton's Folly
Bill Fulton is often lionized by planning "professionals" and students for his writing in this book but the truth is that his foray into the application reality of his... Read more
Published on June 12, 2004 by Ventura Resident
4.0 out of 5 stars The joke in Los Angeles
The joke in Los Angeles is 'I've never been to downtown Los Angeles'. This is book that tells all about the decentralization of LA. Read more
Published on December 2, 2002 by Andre Yi
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
Excellent and fascinating read for anyone interested in Los Angeles. The first 20 pages are worth the price of the book.
Published on March 13, 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Mike Davis without the dictionary
William Fulton's a rockstar...he's a planner, he's a journalist, he lives in southern California, and he writes about southern California. Damn.
This book is so well written. Read more
Published on January 23, 2002 by Darwin's Brother
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Los Angeles book to read
This book is for any person who likes to read about Los Angeles. Gives thoughts and theories of how and why L.A. developed the way it did. Read more
Published on May 18, 2000 by Mark C. Hunter
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read for anyone interested in planning or politics.
Wow! William Fulton's look at the workings of Los Angeles government takes the reader on a trip through history to help discover how Los Angeles got to be how it is today. Read more
Published on January 24, 1998
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