Thursday, November 6, 2008

Los Angeles: Smogtown USA

Smogtown, a new book by Chip Jacobs and William J. Kelly describes smog in LA. Love the subtitle: Smogtown: The Lung-Burning History of Pollution in Los Angeles

You think we got it bad now? Nah, we don't got it bad now! In the 1950s and 60s smog was much worse than it is today. Remember brown-outs?

Although LA was known centuries ago as the Valley of Little Smokes, Smog-the-Inscrutable settled in on July 26, 1943. People suspected war-time factory sabotage or industrial leaks, but in short order they realized that Los Angeles' car-crazy commuters had created the problem themselves.

And we solved it ourselves, too...sorta. Well, it's a work in progress.

Here are reviews from the LA Times, Publishers Weekly (scroll down over a third of the way for October reviews), and--just for good measure--an NPR interview with Patt Morrison (in this case, scroll to about 2/3 down the page). Kirkus calls it "zany and provocative cultural history," which of course is what cultural history is all about. More stuff at the book's website.

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