SET THE NIGHT ON FIRE: L.A. in the Sixties by Mike Davis & John Wiener
Los Angeles in the sixties was a hotbed of political and social upheaval. The city was a launchpad for Black Power--where Malcolm X and Angela Davis first came to prominence and the Watts uprising shook the nation. The city was home to the Chicano Blowouts and Chicano Moratorium, as well as being the birthplace of "Asian American" as a political identity. It was a locus of the antiwar movement, gay liberation movement, and women's movement, and, of course, the capital of California counterculture.
Mike Davis and Jon Wiener provide the first comprehensive movement history of L.A. in the sixties, drawing on extensive archival research and dozens of interviews with principal figures, as well as the authors' storied personal histories as activists. Following on from Davis's awardwinning L.A. history, City of Quartz, Set the Night on Fire is a historical tour de force, delivered in scintillating and fiercely beautiful prose.
"Authoritative and impressive." -Los Angeles Times
"The familiar, monochromatic picture of Los Angeles in the sixties--all Hollywood pop and Didion ennui--required a million people of African, Asian, and Mexican ancestry to be 'edited out of utopia, ' as Mike Davis and Jon Wiener put it. What those people actually did, alongside antiwar feminists, high school students, and others, is the heart of this book, and it's a big heart. No one could tell these intersecting stories better than Davis and Wiener, and their book gives us back a great city's greatness in its movements, edges, and other centers, so many of them forgotten." -Rebecca Solnit, author of Recollections of My Nonexistence: A Memoir
"From the Ash Grove to Aztlán, from the Valley to Vietnam, it's all here. Step inside and meet an amazing array of characters who risked life and limb to drag the City of Angels out of the dark ages. In showing how struggles for free health care, adequate housing, functional schools, racial and sexual liberation, new forms of creative expression, and the human right of freedom from brutal police violence came together into a mighty torrent, Wiener and Davis have written a revolutionary history for an age of continuing contradictions." -Daniel Widener, author of Black Arts West: Culture and Struggle in Postwar Los Angeles
"Davis's and Wiener's L.A. is not the glossy theme park of mansions, beaches, and glitzed-up noir, but the undercity of outsiders struggling to get out from under the savage police to stake out a place in the sun. Their book is a rare and necessary saga of unsung heroes, vicious authorities, and unpunished crimes--a timely reminder of opportunities seized and opportunities wasted." -Todd Gitlin, author of The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage
"This is history from below, in the very best sense, focusing on grassroots heroes and struggles. A magnificent mural of the local Sixties, written with verve and passion by two of my favorite locals." - Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer
"The great task of Set the Night on Fire is to remedy the erasures of the black, brown and queer activists who put their bodies on the line. Mike Davis and Jon Wiener remind us that what there is of progressivism in the city today (we can debate how much) has a very deep history of struggle against unforgiving reactionary forces. Revolutionary artist-nuns, educator-organizers and free-jazz visionaries are just a few of a vast cast of characters that together paint a stirring portrait of a visionary Los Angeles ever-emerging from the shadows of the old order. It's high time radical LA came out of the closet. This book blows the door wide open. Viva Los Angeles Libre!" -Rubén Martínez, author of Desert America: A Journey Across Our Most Divided Landscape