- Paperback: 400 pages
- Publisher: The Overlook Press; 1 edition (October 13, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1590204026
- ISBN-13: 978-1590204023
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.2 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 21 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,271,165 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Smogtown: The Lung-Burning History of Pollution in Los Angeles 1st Edition
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"... the book is not lacking in historical heft. Instead, style delivers substance in true Hollywood fashion, with character-driven plots draped in glamour and sensation ... the history of smog has never been so sexy ..." -- Los Angeles Times
"[S]tory of smog in all its hazy-and sometimes humorous-permutations ... a zany and provocative cultural history." -- Kirkus
"Finished with a particularly powerful, forward-looking epilogue, this friendly, accessible history should appeal to any American environmentalist."-- Publishers Weekly
"... a meticulous chronicle of the city's signature airborne grime and of the civic and social forces that emerged to stop it ... ... The story of Smogtown is that of a city vying against time to reconcile incommensurables ... " -- Bookforum
"The narrative that emerges is more than a tale of a region and a populace besieged by smog; it is also a parable for a nation beset by environmental and social problems ... (a) well-researched cultural history" -- Slate
"Writing in a hip, lively style, ...[An] intriguing social history of an environmental problem that won't go away. Recommended." - Library Journal
"... a well-documented, highly engaging, and widely relevant account of southern California's battle with "the beast," as the authors lovingly refer to smog. ... Smogtown is not your typical "green's" diatribe against big business and weak government. No, Jacobs and Kelly are much smarter-and fairer-than that" -- Sustainablog
About the Author
Chip Jacobs is the author of five other books: Strange As It Seems: the Impossible Life of Gordon Zahler; The Vicodin Thieves: Biopysing L.A.'s Grifters, Gloryhounds and Goliaths; The Ascension of Jerry: Murder, Hitmen and the Making of LA Muckraker Jerry Schneiderman; The People's Republic of Chemicals; (with William J. Kelly); and the privately issued Black Wednesday Boys. Jacobs' reporting has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, CNN, Bloomberg View, the Daily News of Los AngelesLA Weekly, among other outlets. Jacobs, the recipient of numerous writing commendations, lives in Southern California. Visit chipjacobs.com to learn more.
Top customer reviews
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I am a free lance writer; emphasis on free! When I was young, I thought I was a good basketball player until I played against Carl Braun (New York Knicks in the 50s) in the army. That was the day I realized I wasn't very good. I felt the same way this morning when I turned the last page of this book.
The book is, at once, alarming and encouraging. Every American needs to read this book and take a look inside and around. We are at a crossroads. The decisions we make today could save or doom our progeny.
"A panorama of the Los Angeles skyline used to often resemble a poorly developed roll of film, cut through the middle with a view-obscuring brown smudge. Welcome to "Smogtown: The Lung-Burning History of Pollution in Los Angeles," in which Chip Jacobs and William J. Kelly demonstrate that our current air quality is a free-breathing dream compared to the nightmare that enveloped the city for a good portion of the last century ... "Smogtown" is a regional history for the layperson, focusing slightly more on civic drama and scandal than hard science and legislative details ... Jacobs and Kelly bring a combination of alt-weekly sensibility and public service gravitas to their account. Evidenced by chapter titles like "Bouffants & Stethoscopes" and "The Wizard of Ozone," the authors apply humor to a grave subject ... However, the book is not lacking in historical heft. Instead, style delivers substance in true Hollywood fashion, with character-driven plots draped in glamour and sensation. Whether we learn about photochemical pollution via a renegade Caltech scientist or travel with a group of Beverly Hills socialites as they embrace environmental activism, the history of smog has never been so sexy..." - LOS ANGELES TIMES
"This colorful history of smog in Los Angeles begins in the 1940s and ends with a warning call for action. Self-proclaimed "survivors" of "L.A.'s greatest crisis," journalist Jacobs (Wheeling the Deal: The Outrageous Legend of Gordon Zahler, Hollywood's Flashiest Quadriplegic) and California Energy Circuit senior correspondent Kelly (Home Safe Home: How to Make Your Home Environmentally Safe) ... dredge up the story of smog in all its hazy--and sometimes humorous--permutations ... In this tale of underhanded deals, gritty politics, community organizing and burgeoning environmentalism, the corruption is plentiful and the subplots replete with intrigue ... the authors offer a zany and provocative cultural history." - KIRKUS
"Encapsulating deftly the worldview, historical context, and public psychology of Southern Californians over a number of decades, ... Jacobs and Kelly examine the approaches they've made to the region's chronic pollution issues, many of which presage current, nation-wide trends in both pollution and its "Greening." With casual language and a cinematic sense of the dramatic, Jacobs and Kelly detail the buildup to the famous orange-brown L.A. smog of the 1950s and 1960s: "Sometime in the late 1950s, legend had it hat a hen laid an egg that L.A. pollution unaccountably turned green." ... Finished with a particularly powerful, forward-looking epilogue, this friendly, accessible history should appeal to any American environmentalist." - PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
"... a meticulous chronicle of the city's signature airborne grime and of the civic and social forces that emerged to stop it ... describes a decidedly dreary Los Angeles: Patio furniture fades, flowers die, and a man's coral-colored tie turns bluish-purple over the course of an afternoon--all due to the smog that rolled into the city quite unannounced one morning in 1943. "The blocked skies," write Jacobs and Kelly, "were tantamount to acne on a beauty queen."... the authors toss in a dose of gallows humor and a light brushing of melodrama. The smog is personified as a "beast you couldn't stab . . . cunning and silent," with scientists "jousting" to defeat it. Such instances remind one of the voice-over from Dragnet, and it's hard not to laugh when imagining Joe Friday intoning, "Deep within Disneyland in Anaheim, California, stands Tomorrowland." But the point of Smogtown is well made: that the truth really is inconvenient ... The story of Smogtown is that of a city vying against time to reconcile incommensurables ... " - BOOKFORUM
"The narrative that emerges is more than a tale of a region and a populace besieged by smog; it is also a parable for a nation beset by environmental and social problems ... Among the pleasures of this well-researched cultural history is revisiting the past by way of old newspaper articles and archival material, which expose both hapless guesses and dogged persistence on the way to smog literacy." - SLATE
"The tale of one American city's epic struggle with smog may not strike you as the most interesting of reads ... But when that city is Los Angeles, things become much more complicated...and, I might as well say it, sexy ... Jacobs and ... Kelly provide a well-documented, highly engaging, and widely relevant account ... Despite its clear intention of making a case for environmental awareness and action, Smogtown is not your typical "green's" diatribe against big business and weak government. No, Jacobs and Kelly are much smarter-and fairer-than that in this book ... The authors' historical story exposes the roots and rampages of smog, how a prodigious population explosion and growing consumption "essentially...turned nature against itself." - SUSTAINABLOG
"Hip and lively," "an intriguing social history of an environmental problem that won't go away." Recommended. - LIBRARY JOURNAL
"It's a dramatic story, playing out like it was written for the screen, with clear protagonists and villains - and humor peppered throughout ... a gripping tale that will keep you eagerly turning the pages ... Of course, we all know how this story ends. Air pollution is still a major concern in Los Angeles ... But don't let that stop you from giving this lively story a read. It's got sex, plenty of Hollywood glamour, scandal, and murder - but never falters in its brilliant coverage of an incredibly important environmental issue." - EARTH FIRST
* Named one of Top environmental books of 2009 by prestigious Booklist magazine.
* Honored with silver medals at the recent Independent Publishers(IPPY) Book Awards and at the Green Book Festival.
* Winner of Santa Monica's renowned "Green Prize for Sustainable Literature"
* Recommended by Los Angeles magazine, among others, and excerpted in Mother Nature Network.
* Sacramento Bee Bestseller.
* Book has been featured in the New York Times, L.A. Times, Slate, C-SPAN 2's Book TV and numerous blogs. Be sure and check out [...] for more.