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Mike Davis: Rio Grande Valley Republicans, 19 November 2020

... Expecting​  2008, Democrats got 2016 again, an unnervingly close election that Joe Biden appears to have won by razor-thin margins in a few states. If the blue wave has proved almost as illusionary as the blue wall four years ago, it is because centrist Democrats, as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren constantly warned during the primary debates, have refused to learn the lessons of 2016 ...

El Diablo in Wine Country

Mike Davis, 2 November 2017

... In​ 1942 Alfred Hitchcock recruited the author of Our Town, Thornton Wilder, to write the screenplay for Shadow of a Doubt, an innocence-versus-evil thriller set in an ‘idyllic American town’. After considering various candidates, Hitchcock and Wilder selected Santa Rosa, a picturesque agricultural community of 13,000 people, 55 miles north of San Francisco in Sonoma County ...

Diary

Mike Davis: California Burns, 15 November 2007

... Every year, sometimes in September, but usually in October just before Halloween, when California’s wild vegetation is driest and most combustible, high pressure over the Great Basin and Colorado Plateau unleashes an avalanche of cold air towards the Pacific coast. As this huge air mass descends, it heats up through compression, creating the illusion that we are being roasted by outbursts from nearby deserts, when in fact the devil winds originate in the land of the Anasazi – the mystery people who left behind such impressive ruins at Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon ...

California Noir

Michael Rogin: Destroying Los Angeles, 19 August 1999

Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster 
by Mike Davis.
Picador, 484 pp., £18.99, June 1999, 9780330372190
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... Yet people turn from His ways.’ These remarks are not by the author of Ecology of Fear, Mike Davis, but the Southern California congresswoman Andrea Seastrand, speaking on behalf of Jehovah. Although the Los Angeles Times reassured its readers that ‘as far as can be determined’, the dozens of large snakes deposited on Southern Californian ...

Neo-Catastrophism

Eric Klinenberg: Sinful Cities?, 9 October 2003

The Unfinished City: New York and the Metropolitan Idea 
by Thomas Bender.
New Press, 287 pp., $30, September 2002, 1 56584 736 9
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Dead Cities: and Other Tales 
by Mike Davis.
New Press, 448 pp., $16.95, October 2003, 1 56584 844 6
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... process of creative destruction, refusing to let any obstacle block its path? Thomas Bender and Mike Davis are two of America’s leading urban scholars. Bender is a cultural historian known for his accounts of the intellectual and aesthetic life of US cities, and for tracing the distinctively metropolitan influences on American arts, letters and ...

The Power of Sunshine

Alexander Cockburn, 10 January 1991

City of Quartz: Excavating the Future of Los Angeles 
by Mike Davis.
Verso, 462 pp., £18.95, November 1990, 0 86091 303 1
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... reactionary about it.’ He was talking about Los Angeles, where he and Horkheimer allowed (as Mike Davis puts it) ‘their image of first sight to become its own myth: Los Angeles as the crystal ball of capitalism’s future’. They exhibited as little interest as their fellow exile Brecht in the wartime turmoil in the local aircraft plants or the ...

It Migrates to Them

Jeremy Harding: The Coming Megaslums, 8 March 2007

Planet of Slums 
by Mike Davis.
Verso, 228 pp., £15.99, March 2006, 1 84467 022 8
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Buda’s Wagon: A Brief History of the Car Bomb 
by Mike Davis.
Verso, 228 pp., £12.99, March 2007, 978 1 84467 132 8
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... If any of us has seen the places in the developing world that Mike Davis catalogues remorselessly in Planet of Slums, it was probably from an aeroplane. That doesn’t always mean 35,000 feet, for as Davis points out, poorer people tend to colonise the marginal land of cities where air terminals were once built at a comfortable distance from prosperous centres of medium or high population density ...

A Giant Still Sleeping

Lorna Scott Fox: Mike Davies, 4 April 2002

Magical Urbanism: Latinos Reinvent the US City 
by Mike Davis.
Verso, 202 pp., £10, November 2001, 9781859843284
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... Mike Davis has gone from meat-cutting and truck-driving to a migrant professorship, from the hands-on New Left to the New Left Review, from California to Edinburgh, Belfast and back. He is one of the last relics of madder, more eclectic days. The poet and environmentalist Lewis MacAdams claims that ‘in a Greek restaurant one night I saw him talk his way through an entire dinner, from the spanakopita to the baklava, without taking a bite ...

Monuments to Famine

Alex de Waal, 7 March 2019

... famines and the pattern persisted after governance transferred to the British Raj. During what Mike Davis has called the ‘late Victorian Holocausts’ of the 1890s, at least 12.9 million died in India alone, even though, by the 1870s, the most doctrinaire colonial officials had accepted that modest adjustments, such as price controls on basic ...

Knee-Deep

Slavoj Žižek: Leftist Platitudes, 2 September 2004

Free World: Why a Crisis of the West Reveals the Opportunity of Our Time 
by Timothy Garton Ash.
Allen Lane, 308 pp., £17.99, July 2004, 0 7139 9764 8
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... Indonesia, is perhaps the crucial geopolitical event of our times. The case of Lagos, according to Mike Davis, ‘the biggest node in the shanty-town corridor of 70 million people that stretches from Abidjan to Ibadan’, is exemplary: no one even knows the size of its population. Davis quotes a UN report: ‘Officially ...

The Leveller

Ben Ehrenreich: Famine in East Africa, 17 August 2017

... to fish. ‘It will take a long time. Everything will change.’In Late Victorian Holocausts, Mike Davis argued that the massive famines which struck the global south in the late 19th century – he estimates a combined death toll of between thirty and sixty million in India, China and Brazil alone – effectively integrated ‘the great non-European ...

Kindergarten Governor

Gary Indiana: It’s Schwarzenegger!, 6 November 2003

... a quixotic canard then became a surrealist juggernaut, culminating in the ousting of Governor Gray Davis and the risible election of Arnold Schwarzenegger, action figure, as the custodian of the world’s fifth largest economy. Like Schwarzenegger, Congressman Issa has a piquant history. In the early 1980s, his car-alarm company, which did work for a much ...

Rising above it

Russell Davies, 2 December 1982

The Noel Coward Diaries 
edited by Graham Payn and Sheridan Morley.
Weidenfeld, 698 pp., £15, September 1982, 0 297 78142 1
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... You may not like the book, but you will be impressed by the index. There’s Bette Davis and Joe Davis and Sammy Davis Jr. There’s Basil Dean and James Dean, Jack Warner of Dock Green and Jack Warner of Hollywood. Jayne Mansfield lines up alongside Mantovani, and Field-Marshal Viscount Montgomery is discovered between Maria Montez and Dudley Moore ...

Where are all the people?

Owen Hatherley: Jane Jacobs, 27 July 2017

Eyes on the Street: The Life of Jane Jacobs 
by Robert Kanigel.
Knopf, 512 pp., £34, September 2016, 978 0 307 96190 7
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Vital Little Plans: The Short Works of Jane Jacobs 
edited by Samuel Zipp and Nathan Storring.
Random House, 544 pp., £16.99, October 2016, 978 0 399 58960 7
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... from cranky freelancer to feted urban guru (‘the Mother Theresa of urbanism’, as Mike Davis, a rare dissenter from the church of St Jane, once put it) came about through her encounter with the slum, as a concept and, less and less over time, as a reality. It was the slum, in the eyes of the planners of Radiant Garden City Beautiful, that ...

Welcome Home

Sukhdev Sandhu: Memories of Michael X, 4 February 1999

Windrush: The Irresistible Rise of Multiracial Britain 
by Mike Phillips and Trevor Phillips.
HarperCollins, 422 pp., £16.99, May 1998, 0 00 255909 9
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... failure, ecstasy and impasse’ constitute by far the most interesting section of Windrush, Mike and Trevor Phillips’s history of postwar black England. Early arrivals who had been weaned on Shakespeare, Wordsworth and Dickens imagined the metropolis as ancient and archival. They had peered at celluloid images of its citadels and monuments on the ...

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