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The city of Los Angeles can be a controversial and polarizing topic. In modern times, it has been criticized as a culturally shallow town filled with Hollywood starlets; however, at the same time, others praise the vast metropolis as a home for political, social, and cultural diversity. Errol Wayne Stevens, the former head of the Seaver Center for Western History Research at the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum, peels back the historical layers of Los Angeles in Radical L.A., presenting it as a battleground between staunch left- and rightwing coalitions. The very idea of chronicling radicalism is a difficult and vague task. Stevens should be commended for his research and comprehensive study of all things “radical” in Los Angeles between 1894 and 1965. Scholars interested in this particular topic will recognize that Radical L.A.’s specific period of study chronologically precedes Laura Pulido’s 2006 work, Black, Brown, Yellow, and Left: Radical Activism in Los Angeles, and contains only a limited overlap, since Pulido’s study begins in the 1960s. While Stevens never defines radicalism directly, he describes the political Left and Right effectively by using specific labor and cultural disputes to describe the ideological battles occurring within Los Angeles.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.