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Under The Perfect Sun: The San Diego Tourists Never See
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Under The Perfect Sun: The San Diego Tourists Never See

3.7  ·  Rating details ·  73 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
For fourteen million tourists each year, San Diego is the fun place in the sun that never breaks your heart. But America’s eighth-largest city has a dark side. Behind Sea World, the zoo, the Gaslamp District, and the beaches of La Jolla hides a militarized metropolis, boasting the West Coast’s most stratified economy and a tumultuous history of municipal corruption, virule ...more
Paperback, 418 pages
Published May 1st 2005 by The New Press (first published 2003)
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Aug 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
This should be mandatory reading for anyone who has experienced San Diego, especially politically, in the last 20 years.

San Diego has been described as Enron-by-the-Sea and a hotbed of corruption on a level that would give New Orleans a run. But what is rarely explored is how we got here and, sadly, why we are in the ubiquitous messes that call America’s Finest City home.

Mike Davis opens up the book with the aptly titled “Next Little Dollar.” It is the best synopsis of San Diego history I have
Nov 05, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommended to Jon by: Jason evans
Under The Perfect Sun says things that need to be said about San Diego, it's past and it's present. It's a perspective we (who live in San DIego) get glimpses of, but rarely see fully. The writing style and multiple contributions and agendas make this an up-and-down reading experience (some portions far more accessible and digestible than others), but it opens the door to a side of San Diego that needs to be seen and encountered. Not in order to develop disdain or hate, but to see this city for ...more
Dec 06, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
anyone who has experienced the most conservative city located(directly)on the west coast will appreciate this book. It'll help em understand how the hell it got to be so stiffling. There is a good overview of the trifling bit of leftist activism that has been able to survive over the years-- I read this while I was on an organizing campaign in Oceanside, Ca
Mar 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: urban-studies
Like all anthologies, it is mixed, but there is nothing else like it on the area and, as such, it is a requisite text for any lefty or progressive who wants to make sense of the region. (I wish the editors had included a chapter on Tijuana, though)
Nov 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Though I think some of the prose is a bit forced and too opinion-driven, I think this book does a great job of laying out some of the issues that aren't discussed much. The discussion about the military, civil rights movement, suppression of the labor movement, and pollution in the bay are some of the finest moments in the book. Also the profiles of corruption, and the ascendancy of agenda-setting elites - starting with Spreckels, and continuing onward - definitely makes for good reading.
If you are going to goto your loved one's graduation from UCSD then its worth reading, or if you really Mike Davis' other writings about urban landscapes then it'd be worth it...

Otherwise you are probably better off just reading Dead Cities, cause that book should come with a fifth of scotch to swallow the cold hard truth.
Jerry Young
Even for a left-leaning guy like me, the politics in the book are clunky and heavy handed. Still though, it contains a good history of how the military, defense contractors, and even the mob, influenced today's San Diego. It's nice to think of Mission Valley remaining a pastoral space. Ah what could have been...
Chris Schaffer
Jun 25, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: l-a-so-cal
Not a book to read from cover to cover...too many historical details on every subtopic that is covered in the book. Nonetheless it's a good book to skim through with good sections on the corrupt politics of the '60s to today, union busting, economic stratification and perspectives on San Diego life.
Oct 07, 2010 rated it liked it
Not the San Diego that we like to see, but there nonetheless. As a lifelong SD resident, the corrupt politics and ensuing problems with equality, infrastructure, and social services have always been a part of life here. This book is depressing, but illuminating.
May 16, 2008 rated it liked it
Of extremely local interest. Mike Davis is one of three authors, and by far the attraction here. Unless you not only lived in San Diego for a while and closely followed politics and have some historical background about the place, this is incomprehensible.
Jun 23, 2008 is currently reading it
Haven't started it yet... but looks like a great book on San Diego Politics.
Mar 28, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: california
Great attempt at a side of San Diego you aren't supposed to see. A must read for San Diegans, but likely inaccessible to many outsiders.
Oct 17, 2008 added it
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Social commentator, urban theorist, historian, and political activist. He is best known for his investigations of power and social class in his native Southern California.

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