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L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America's Most Seductive City (2009)

af John Buntin

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362871,607 (3.59)8
A journalist and case writer presents a social history of Los Angeles, from Prohibition to the Watts riots, focusing on the long-running war between notorious gangster Mickey Cohen, and the man who would become the city's most famous police chief, William H. Parker.
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» Se også 8 omtaler

Viser 1-5 af 8 (næste | vis alle)
This book is overlong and somewhat disorganized, and the attempt to frame it as the story of a rivalry between gangster Mickey Cohen and Police Chief William Parker is a bit of a stretch--both men had a lot more to worry about than each other--but it is never boring. Certainly Cohen comes across as the more interesting character, a thief, a murderer, a racketeer, and many things besides, but a man who never lost faith in himself. Parker comes across as an excellent politician and a straight arrow, ahead of his time in some ways, but never able to face up to his personal shortcomings or those of the force he led. Along the way, we get insights from Parker's protege, future chief Daryl Gates (the book ends with the Rodney King riots) and capsule histories of the growth of Los Angeles and, in particular, its African American community. Since the African American part has nothing to do with Cohen, by the time you get to the end of this, you'll feel like you just listened (in my case) to more than one book. We also get appearances by John and Robert Kennedy, Bugsy Siegel, and lots of other characters. Glad I listened to this, and it is a good background to reading crime fiction set in L.A. ( )
  datrappert | May 15, 2021 |
A great insight into the 20th century of Los Angeles crime and the Los Angeles Police Department ( )
  ZelmerWilson | Oct 31, 2019 |
This is an excellent "biography" of Los Angeles told thru the lens of the lives of two extremes: Mickey Cohen, the infamous gangster who ran the mob in LA after Bugsy Segel left to create Las Vegas and William Parker, who rose up thru the rangs of the LAPD to become its most famous police chief. From the early days of Prohibition to the Zoot Suit riots to Rodney King and beyond, its a fascinating look at the crime and corruption (political and otherwise) that build the City of Angels.

Recommend.

"Parker found in Los Angeles temptation. Instead of becoming a prominent attorney, he became a cop, a patrolman in the LAPD. Coldly cerebral (Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, a onetime LAPD officer and Parker speechwriter, reputedly based the character Mr. Spock on his former boss), intolerant of fools, and famously incorruptible (in a department that was famously corrupt), Parker persevered."

The poet Hart Crane on visiting LA in 1927; "Th ecity itself was horrid, but the sex divine"

9/10

S: 7/17/16 - F: 8/1/16 (16 Days) ( )
  mahsdad | Aug 30, 2016 |
While the description makes the reader envision a book about cops and mobsters, this is really a history of LA and the LAPD using mobster Mickey Cohen as the primary antagonist.

As a history of the LAPD, Buntin describes the long battle LAPD fought against corruption internally and externally. I liked how the author gradually brought to the fore the dichotomy between a corrupt police force that can be held accountable by elected politicians with all shades of integrity/ character versus a professional, disciplined, and forward-thinking (methodology-wise) police force under independent civil servants that was out-of-touch with and tone-deaf to the communities they served.

As a history of LA, the author weaves the narrative around the major events of the times - in no particular order: Bobby Kennedy's assassination, the 1960 Democratic Convention, the rise of major industry in LA, the advent of smog after WW2, WW2, Prohibition, the repeal of Prohibition, civil rights, the Great Depression, the Okies, changing demographics,...

Make no mistake, Mickey Cohen takes up many pages, but somehow the struggle never became personal for me. It just seems like he was the chosen representative for the corrupting and corrosive forces. Rather than 2 lines that intersect into an explosion, Parker/ LAPD and Mickey Cohen/ Syndicate are 2 threads woven together but never pulled taut. ( )
  Hae-Yu | May 21, 2016 |
Couldn't get into it ( )
  cjordan916 | Apr 9, 2016 |
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"This is the city - Los Angeles, California. I work here. I'm a copy." Sgt. Joe Friday, Dragnet
"A cop-syndicate rules the city with an iron hand." Mickey Cohen, gangster
"The only time to worry is when they tell the truth about you." William H. Parker, chief, Los Angeles Police Department
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To Melinda --and the boys
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Other cities have histories. Los Angeles has legends.
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The poet Hart Crane, visiting Los Angeles in 1927, would marvel at what he saw in the lush groves of bamboo and banana trees in downtown’s Pershing Square. “The number of faggots cruising around here is legion,” he wrote friends back East. “Here are little fairies who can quote Rimbaud before they are eighteen.” The city itself was horrid, Crane wrote, but the sex was divine.
The Los Angeles papers dubbed it (approvingly) the Bum Blockade. Inspectors from the State Relief Administration reported that officers were “exercising extra-constitutional powers of exclusion, detention, and preemptive arrest” that “seemed more like the border checkpoints of fascist Europe than those of an American state.” Davis responded that 48 percent of the people turned back had criminal records. “It is an axiom with Davis that constitutional rights are of benefit to nobody but crooks and criminals, and that no perfectly law-abiding citizen ever has any cause to insist on ‘constitutional rights,’” reported the Los Angeles Record sarcastically.
...the question that Los Angeles always seems to pose: Is Our Lady the Queen of the Angels the dark angel, or do we simply bring our own darkness to her?
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A journalist and case writer presents a social history of Los Angeles, from Prohibition to the Watts riots, focusing on the long-running war between notorious gangster Mickey Cohen, and the man who would become the city's most famous police chief, William H. Parker.

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