Fake Book Review: L.A. City Limits By Josh Sides

This full title of this book is actually L.A. City Limits: African American Los Angeles From the Great Depression to the Present. 

The theme: L.A. was seen as a place of great promise and opportunity for African Americans suffering under outright tyranny in the South and massive discrimination in the rust belt.  In many ways, L.A. lived up to its billing as a freer, more tolerant place.  In many more ways, it didn't.  Housing covenants (Welcome to the neighborhood! If you should later decide to sell your home to a black family, we'll kill your dog and put a bomb in your car!)  were viciously enforced here.  Employment discrimination was rampant, and black workers had few allies in government, industry, or the unions. 

The war: Changed the whole economic and political climate in Southern California, creating an opportunity to sweep aside entrenched and rampant racism.  Results, of course, are mixed to this day.

The scope: Sides introduces us to the editors of local black newspapers, gives a great history of Compton, looks into the prevailing economic and social conditions at the time of the Watts riots, follows the career of Tom Bradley, breaks down black employment opportunities along gender lines, and really delves into African Americans' experience with the Union movement.  That's just off the top of my head…

The tone: Well-researched and heavily reliant on primary sources as opposed to  runaway theorizing.