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Bohemian Los Angeles

and the Making of Modern Politics

Daniel Hurewitz (Author)

Available worldwide

Paperback, 377 pages
ISBN: 9780520256231
April 2008
$29.95, £24.00
Other Formats Available:
Bohemian Los Angeles brings to life a vibrant and all-but forgotten milieu of artists, leftists, and gay men and women whose story played out over the first half of the twentieth century and continues to shape the entire American landscape. It is the story of a hidden corner of Los Angeles, where the personal first became the political, where the nation’s first enduring gay rights movement emerged, and where the broad spectrum of what we now think of as identity politics was born. Portraying life over a period of more than forty years in the hilly enclave of Edendale, near downtown Los Angeles, Daniel Hurewitz considers the work of painters and printmakers, looks inside the Communist Party’s intimate cultural scene, and examines the social world of gay men. In this vividly written narrative, he discovers why and how these communities, inspiring both one another and the city as a whole, transformed American notions of political identity with their ideas about self-expression, political engagement, and race relations. Bohemian Los Angeles, incorporating fascinating oral histories, personal letters, police records, and rare photographs, shifts our focus from gay and bohemian New York to the west coast with significant implications for twentieth-century U.S. history and politics.
List of Illustrations
Introduction: Traversing the Hills of Edendale
Prologue: A World Left Behind

1. “A Most Lascivious Picture of Impatient Desire”
2. Together against the World: Self, Community, and Expression among the Artists of Edendale
3. 1930s Containment: Identity by State Dictate
4. Left of Edendale: The Deep Politics of Communist Community
5. The United Nations in a City: Racial Ideas in Edendale, on the Left, and in Wartime Los Angeles
6. Getting Some Identity: Mattachine and the Politics of Sexual Identity Construction

Conclusion: The Struggle of Identity Politics
Daniel Hurewitz is Assistant Professor of History at Hunter College, City University of New York, and author of Stepping Out: Nine Walks through New York's Gay and Lesbian Past.
“Stakes new claims upon the history of queer Los Angeles, mapping broad potentialities onto a small locale. . . . It advances a sophisticated argument. Place, desire, expressiveness, and organization are fused in unlikely and creative new ways of belonging and resisting in the context of growing policing, pathologization, and consolidation of homosexuality. Hurewitz has given us a genuinely innovative way to understand the birth of gay politics, the production of gay identity, and the ways in which the two became inextricably linked within the movement of identity politics that would dominate the Left for decades to come.”—Journal Of The History Of Sexuality
“A brilliant work . . . an inspiring book deserving of the widest possible readership . . . Hurewitz’s description of the interrelationship between two constituencies striving for a distinct identity—one based on gender, the other political orientation—is what makes Bohemian Los Angeles such a stunning achievement.”—Randy Shaw
“Hurewitz is to be commended for dismantling some of the artificial barriers separating gay history from, for example, the history of artists or the Left--and he does so with the flourish of a novelist that many readers will appreciate.”—Journal Of American History
“An engaging, original book.”—Jenny Burman Los Angeles Times Book Review
“A fascinating, accessible history of Los Angeles’s Boho world in the first half of the 20th century . . . Filled with groundbreaking research.”—Publishers Weekly
“This is a terrific book: smart, well written, and always engaging.”—Michael Bronski The Guide
“Hurewitz’s impressive debut marks—to the extent that one can ever predict such things—the arrival of a future scholar of the front rank.”—Martin Duberman The Nation
"A beautifully-crafted book that will serve as a benchmark work for years to come."—Vicki Ruiz, author of From Out of the Shadows: Mexican Women in Twentieth-Century America

"In beautiful style, Hurewitz engages the history of sexuality writ large. He provides a fascinating look at the development of bohemian Los Angeles, its overlap of artists and activists, and presents this material in a new light that tells the story of the emergence of homosexual civil rights movements through the art and politics of the day. This will certainly impact the direction of the field."—Nan Alamilla Boyd, author of Wide-Open Town: A History of Queer San Francisco to 1965

"An important and highly original book. It is at once a history of homosexual and homosocial thought and behavior, modernism and modernist expression, and radical political engagement. Its restorative, poignant character allows the reader to visit lost neighborhoods where social and political threads brought together a compelling group of people."—William Deverell, author of Whitewashed Adobe: The Rise of Los Angeles and the Remaking of Its Mexican Past

"Hurewitz truly opens Los Angeles' closet door in this stunning history of the 'Red Hills' above Silver Lake where radical countercultures dreamed, cavorted, and agitated for a better world."—Mike Davis, author of Planet of Slums

Finalist for the John Hope Franklin Prize, American Studies Association

Herbert Hoover Book Award Committee, Herbert Hoover Presidential Library Association

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