L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America's Most Seductive City Audiobook | John Buntin | Audible.com
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L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America's Most Seductive City | [John Buntin]

L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America's Most Seductive City

Midcentury Los Angeles: A city sold to the world as "the white spot of America", a land of sunshine and orange groves, Midwestern values, and Hollywood stars, protected by the world's most famous police force, the Dragnet-era LAPD. Behind this public image lies a hidden world of "pleasure girls" and crooked cops, ruthless newspaper tycoons, corrupt politicians, and East Coast gangsters on the make. Into this underworld came two men - one L.A.'s most notorious gangster, the other its most famous police chief - each prepared to battle the other for the soul of the city.
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Publisher's Summary

Audie Award Nominee, History, 2013

Midcentury Los Angeles: A city sold to the world as "the white spot of America", a land of sunshine and orange groves, wholesome Midwestern values, and Hollywood stars, protected by the world's most famous police force, the Dragnet-era LAPD. Behind this public image lies a hidden world of "pleasure girls" and crooked cops, ruthless newspaper tycoons, corrupt politicians, and East Coast gangsters on the make. Into this underworld came two men - one L.A.'s most notorious gangster, the other its most famous police chief - each prepared to battle the other for the soul of the city.

Former street thug turned featherweight boxer Mickey Cohen left the ring for the rackets, first as mobster Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel's enforcer, then as his protégé. A fastidious dresser and unrepentant killer, the diminutive Cohen was Hollywood's favorite gangster - and L.A.'s preeminent underworld boss. Frank Sinatra, Robert Mitchum, and Sammy Davis, Jr., palled around with him; TV journalist Mike Wallace wanted his stories; evangelist Billy Graham sought his soul.

William H. Parker was the proud son of a pioneering law-enforcement family from the fabled frontier town of Deadwood. As a rookie patrolman in the Roaring Twenties, he discovered that L.A. was ruled by a shadowy "Combination" - a triumvirate of tycoons, politicians, and underworld figures where alliances were shifting, loyalties uncertain, and politics were practiced with shotguns and dynamite. Parker's life mission became to topple it - and to create a police force that would never answer to elected officials again.

These two men, one morally unflinching, the other unflinchingly immoral, would soon come head-to-head in a struggle to control the city - a struggle that echoes unforgettably through the fiction of Raymond Chandler and movies such as The Big Sleep, Chinatown, and L.A. Confidential.

For more than three decades, from Prohibition through the Watts Riots, the battle between the underworld and the police played out amid the nightclubs of the Sunset Strip and the mansions of Beverly Hills, from the gritty streets of Boyle Heights to the manicured lawns of Brentwood, intersecting in the process with the agendas and ambitions of J. Edgar Hoover, Robert F. Kennedy, and Malcolm X. The outcome of this decades-long entanglement shaped modern American policing - for better and for worse - and helped create the Los Angeles we know today.

A fascinating examination of Los Angeles's underbelly, the Mob, and America's most admired - and reviled - police department, L.A. Noir is an enlightening, entertaining, and richly detailed narrative about the city originally known as El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Angeles, "The Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels."

©2009 John Buntin (P)2012 Tantor

What the Critics Say

"Important and wonderfully enjoyable." (Los Angeles Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (70 )
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3.9 (64 )
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4.0 (65 )
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  •  
    Jimmy Altadena, CA, United States 10-23-12
    Jimmy Altadena, CA, United States 10-23-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "A good (but a little corny) history of LA"

    As a lifelong Angeleno, this book was very interesting to me. I hardly knew any of this information, and I think the story is compelling enough to hold the interest of people who do not know the area at all. However, the author takes on an affected, fake-pulpy style in the first half that is pretty distracting and definitely takes away from the content. The 20's and 30's were sensational enough on their own and don't really need that, and I would have preferred something a little more historical. The second half, which covers the second half of the 20th century, is much better in that regard. This is a great topic and I think Buntin covered it competently. The narration was good.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer G Long Beach CA 11-06-12
    Jennifer G Long Beach CA 11-06-12 Member Since 2012

    Jen in So Cal

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "It was a struggle for me to finish this book"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    No, unless they wanted to relive the shame of the LAPD's last forty years.


    What could John Buntin have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Stop the authors notes. It distracted. They should have been incorporated into the story.
    Also, the 1991 Riots from the Rodney King verdict were included in the epilogue. Why not have kept it as part of the story, unless you didn't want to explain the 20+ years in between the Watts Riots and the RK verdict?

    basically, I didn't think the story lived up to the title and description of the book.


    Have you listened to any of Kirby Heyborne’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No, but he gave a good read.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    Actually, I probably would because most of what would translate to the silver screen would hold my attention.


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tim Los Angeles, CA, United States 08-10-13
    Tim Los Angeles, CA, United States 08-10-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Part of the history of L.A."
    What did you love best about L.A. Noir?

    I enjoy learning about the history of L.A.; I am familiar with so many of the names involved and the action takes place in streets I drive each day. Anyone unfamiliar with the area might find it less interesting.


    Any additional comments?

    I love books that can bring history to life, that delve into the reasons for the decision people make, rather than simply recounting a series of events.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    bob MARBLEHEAD, MA, United States 02-03-14
    bob MARBLEHEAD, MA, United States 02-03-14 Member Since 2011

    I have an excruciatingly long commute. Listening to books is about all that has kept me from falling into the abyss. History and bios only

    ratings
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    52
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    "The mob and the LAPD."

    I enjoyed this history of Los Angeles police chief Parker and criminal Cohen. Story moves along well, good grasp of details without dragging you down into minutia. I recommend.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David F. Zarth Hammond, In. USA 02-25-13
    David F. Zarth Hammond, In. USA 02-25-13 Member Since 2011
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    10
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    Story
    "A twisted tale"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    Yes I would think it needs a stronger editing. A decision on which story the author is telling when should be made. Both stories are strong ,Mickey and the Chief are both strong characters,but their stories need clarification.


    Would you recommend L.A. Noir to your friends? Why or why not?

    I would somewhat recommend this book. With the caveat that the plot is somewhat muddled.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    No single scene jumps out as a favorite. The flowing tale was fascinating of itself.


    Was L.A. Noir worth the listening time?

    Yes just for the vast amount of information on the development of organized crime and Parker's fight against it. And his development of an honest force.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nancy Cuyahoga Falls, OH, United States 02-09-13
    Nancy Cuyahoga Falls, OH, United States 02-09-13 Member Since 2002
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    "Interesting history"
    If you could sum up L.A. Noir in three words, what would they be?

    Unexpected connections


    What was one of the most memorable moments of L.A. Noir?

    The connections between historical figures is always fascinating and this book is full of unexpected ones. It is worth a listen just to understand that.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Maybe could use a little editing as it would be impossible to listen in one sitting. But worth it just to understand a small part of 20th C history


    Any additional comments?

    This book is probably the basis for the new movie Gangster Squad, which made no sense at all. So good to get the back story to that movie.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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