Monday, August 29, 2016

John Mack Faragher

John Mack Faragher is the author of Eternity Street: Violence and Justice in Frontier Los Angeles. From his Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: Why did you decide to focus on frontier Los Angeles, and what do you see as some of the most common perceptions and misperceptions about Los Angeles in that era?

A: The decision to do a book on Los Angeles was personal. I grew up in Southern California, outside Los Angeles, went to public school, to the University of California, Riverside, and was a social worker in South Central Los Angeles, and [then received a] Ph.D. in history.

Later in my career I had the opportunity to spend time in Los Angeles. Over the last 10-15 years we’ve spent a lot of time there. My previous book was on the expulsion of Acadian people from Nova Scotia. It got me interested in the historical problem of violence…

My wife said, When you do your next book, pick some place we’d like to be. I thought, why not a book on violence in Los Angeles? The Huntington Library has all the judicial records for Los Angeles in the early period, and the Seaver Center in Exposition Park is a repository of records of the alcalde’s office, in the Mexican period…

There was an opportunity to look at conditions under two nation states, two wars of conquest—by the Spanish and the Americans. The 1850s and ‘60s was a notoriously violent period in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles is such a 20th century city. It came into prominence in the middle of the century, and it’s associated with development and real estate. It all began in the late 1880s. Los Angeles was founded in 1781, and in the 1880s there was the real estate boom. Very few historians have written, and the general public is ignorant, about...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue