When it was first published in 1990, Mike Davis’ “City of Quartz” hardly seemed a candidate for bestseller status.
There was its author, for starters. Davis was a Marxist urban scholar whose primary contribution to the public discourse at the time consisted of a little-read book about the history of labor in the U.S., along with dispatches on related subjects in the LA Weekly and the New Left Review.
There was also the book itself. Released by the lefty publishing house Verso, it was 462 dense, unsparing pages about the ways in which powerful interests in Los Angeles — namely, real estate developers, aided and abetted by politicians and the Police Department — had ruthlessly molded the landscape of the city to their whim, principally at the expense of the working class and people of color, all while promoting myths about backyard living.