L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America’s Most Seductive City by John Buntin

Southern California became an interesting, fast-growing place after they started making movies in Hollywood and drilling oil wells wherever possible. The population boomed and so did crime. L.A. Noir tells the story of crime, crime-fighting and police corruption in Los Angeles between 1920 (when L.A. had become bigger than San Francisco) and 1992 (when Rodney King was beaten and 54 people died in a riot).

The book tells this story by focusing on the parallel careers of Mickey Cohen, a well-known local gangster, and William Parker, L.A.’s most famous police chief. They each had their good points, but Mickey Cohen was a thug and Chief Parker was a misguided right-winger. Los Angeles improved after they were both gone.  (2/14/13)