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The Docks

Bill Sharpsteen (Author)

Available worldwide

Paperback, 328 pages
ISBN: 9780520271357
January 2011
$29.95, £24.00
Other Formats Available:
The Docks is an eye-opening journey into a giant madhouse of activity that few outsiders ever see: the Port of Los Angeles. In a book woven throughout with riveting novelist detail and illustrated with photographs that capture the frenetic energy of the place, Bill Sharpsteen tells the story of the people who have made this port, the largest in the country, one of the nation’s most vital economic enterprises. Among others, we meet a pilot who parks ships, one of the first women longshoremen, union officials and employers at odds over almost everything, an environmental activist fighting air pollution in the “diesel death zone,” and those with the nearly impossible job of enforcing security. Together these stories paint a compelling picture of a critical entryway for goods coming into the country—the Port of Los Angeles is part of a complex that brings in 40% of all our waterborne cargo and 70% of all Asian imports—yet one that is also extremely vulnerable. The Docks is a rare look at a world within our world in which we find a microcosm of the labor, environmental, and security issues we collectively face.
List of Illustrations

1. Valet Parking
2. A Carpet of Containers
3. Moving Cans
4. The Landlord
5. The Diesel Death Zone
6. The Union
7. The Employers
8. The Importer
9. The Shipper
10. Los Troqueros
11. The Hold Men
12. The Women
13. The Clerk
14. Security
15. The New Normal
16. Hawse Piper

Bill Sharpsteen is a writer and photographer based in Los Angeles. He is the author of Dirty Water: One Man’s Fight to Clean Up One of the World’s Most Polluted Bays (UC Press), and his articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times Magazine, Los Angeles Magazine, and The Washington Post. He is also an award-winning documentary producer.
“Wildly enlightening . . . Skillfully teases out the port’s role within the global economy and how every American depends upon the people who make it work.”—Zyzzyva
“Provides an engrossing tour of the place where your easy chair, your children's toys and the shirt on your back most likely came ashore.”—Wall Street Journal
“A fascinating read.”—California Lawyer
“A fine-grained view of how the world's trade is kept flowing.”—Onearth
“Beautifully illuminating.”—Santa Barbara News-Press
“An excellent and entertaining book.”—Bob Walch Bookloons Reviews
"The Docks delivers a raw and poignant behind-the-scenes view of our port through the eyes of workers, shippers, executives and sideline critics. Sharpsteen pieces together an unvarnished mosaic that reveals the enormity of the operations and its workforce, amidst a perennial maelstrom of debates and competing interests."—Geraldine Knatz, Executive Director, Port of Los Angeles

"An engaging page turner. Sharpsteen captures the feeling and interconnectedness of the Los Angeles Waterfront, the noise, the excitement, the joys, the tensions, the complexities and conflicts. I found it difficult to put down."—David Wellman, author of Whitewashing Race

"Sharpsteen has almost a novelist's talent for using human interest profiles to engage an audience and present a non-fiction narrative. Here is working knowledge not only of how the Port of Los Angeles functions, but of its crucial importance to the region, nation, and world economy, and what its loss would mean."—Gray Brechin, author of Imperial San Francisco: Urban Power, Earthly Ruin

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