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

Extended Audio Sample L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of Americas Most Seductive City Audiobook, by John Buntin Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (307 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: John Buntin Narrator: Kirby Heyborne Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: June 2012 ISBN: 9781452678313
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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." Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • Important and wonderfully enjoyable. Los Angeles Times

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Meleya | 2/14/2014

    " It took me quite awhile to understand what was going on in this history. Too many names to follow - a chart on my bookmark may have helped. Once I got the point I really enjoyed all of the stories. Interesting history of the Hollywood names and the Kennedys. Enjoyable read in the end. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Ron Burch | 2/11/2014

    " Thought it was disappointing. A rather dry book. While it was an interesting story on how the LAPD evolved from a very corrupt organization based on the leadership of William Parker. What I didn't think worked was trying to establish Mickey Cohen as an antagonist, which felt like a stretch. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ivan Rott | 2/10/2014

    " I started reading this BEFORE I found out it was going to be turned into a TV series. For that, I feel a great sense of accomplishment. Also, it was a fascinating read. I love films noir (and I live in L.A.), so this was right up my alley. Buntin did some great research and the sources and notes in the back are helpful and well-referenced. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jermajesty Slosky | 1/18/2014

    " An absorbing, sharply written and extremely well researched pop history. I feel like, even though I've already lived in the area for several years, I now understand the city much better just from having read this book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mike | 12/28/2013

    " The stories of both men (William Parker and Mickey Cohen) are fascinating, however they seemed much more entertaining and interesting then the manner in which the author told them. Plus the book suggests a struggle between the two which never really came to light and seemed to be a stretch at times. Overall an interesting book, but a dry one that didn't live up to the expectations I had for it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Matt | 12/27/2013

    " This is a pretty interesting read and showcases the true situation in LA in the early half of the century. The author describes a constant world of corruption and shifting alliances of organized crime, police, politicians, and industrialists. Also, the work can read as real life LA Confidential "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Rod Zemke | 12/24/2013

    " This book is not what it purports to be--"The Struggle . . ." It is most about LA Police Chief Parker and a bit of info on Mickey Cohn. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 TJ | 12/24/2013

    " Great story, one-stroke above par writer. I give it 7 out of 10 unwarrented wiretaps. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Heather | 10/8/2013

    " I am still deliciously drunk on this clever history. Mickey Cohen, Bugsy Siegel, the LAPD's legacy of corruption and bruteness, old-time movie stars, bootleggers and gamblers--what's not to love? Great classic gangster speak, too "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Susan | 7/25/2013

    " Fascinating book...especially if you grew up on Los Angeles. Reads easily, like a novel, but is non-fiction. It's basically the story of L.A. in the era of Chief Bill Parker and Mickey Cohen. I found myself constantly saying "I didn't know that!" "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ray | 5/16/2013

    " A very worthy read. I can not improve on Michael Connelly's quote: "Fascinating... Flat-out entertaining." Covers almost a century of L.A. criminal and police history, from pre-Prohibition to post-Rodney King, with even a surprise mention of Hot Springs, AR. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Joel | 1/14/2013

    " Liked it, didn't love it. Cohen and Parker weren't really tied together that well, but there were some interesting stories. I'm probably at fault -- I thought it would contain more "film noire"-like stories. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michael | 11/20/2012

    " This is a very good book, well written and accurate. I thought this was a fiction when I bought it, but soon discovered that is non-fiction. If you like reading Los Angeles history, this is a book for you. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mark | 11/17/2012

    " Interesting book, gives a lot of good background to stories that were in the L.A. set of books by James Ellroy. I would have thought Johnny Stompanato would have had a bigger part in the book, especially in the chapters about Mickey Cohen, but still good. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tracy | 8/5/2012

    " I like the book as it is informative but, the printing is so small that it is challenging my eyesight. I don't even wear glasses. "

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About the Narrator

Kirby Heyborne is a musician, actor, and professional narrator. Noted for his work in teen and juvenile audio, he has garnered twenty-two Earphones Awards. His audiobook credits include Jesse Kellerman’s The Genius, Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother, and George R. R. Martin’s Selections from Dreamsongs.