A fascinating, little-known history on the evolution of an iconic city whose destiny was forever altered by a group of...



A focused overview of the people and events that shaped Beverly Hills.

Against a backdrop of the Roaring ’20s and the Prohibition Era, a scarcely addressed territorial skirmish simmered over the land now known as Beverly Hills. Journalist and media editor Clare writes passionately and knowledgeably about how a consortium of film celebrities known as the “Beverly Hills Eight”—spearheaded by silent film stars Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks and including Will Rogers, Rudolph Valentino, and Tom Mix, among others—staked their careers on keeping the territory independent from annexation. In her enlightening, tight history lesson, the author retraces the area’s expansive legacy to its early roots as a lima bean plantation in the late 19th century, when two converging underground streams made the area farm-friendly, and then as an unproductive oil field at the beginning of the 1900s. Clare takes obvious pride in her research, particularly with the minute details of the region’s legacy. She casually dispels rumors about the real reasons the early motion picture industry migrated westward and the true origin of the Beverly Hills name (she offers no answer; it remains a mystery). Once Margaret Anderson constructed her iconic Beverly Hills Hotel and the young city began to face its challenges (water, the encroaching “decency brigade,” etc.), Pickford and Fairbanks established residency there, and the population boom began, which also made it ripe for hungry realtors eager to develop the land. Clare chronicles the diligent political spadework by Pickford, Fairbanks, and their group of eight, who all used their celebrity influence to advocate for the individuality of Beverly Hills and to “keep their Elysium intact and separate.” Thanks to the author’s solid research and intricate detail, this dedicated band of anti-annexationists receive a fitting commemoration.

A fascinating, little-known history on the evolution of an iconic city whose destiny was forever altered by a group of concerned celebrities.

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-12134-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2018

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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