Victor M. Valle


Sunday, November 15, 2009 from 2-4 pm

A Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter exposes one of the biggest municipal corruption scandals of the last century

Founded in 1957, the Southern California suburb prophetically named the City of Industry today represents, in the words of Victor M. Valle, “the gritty crossroads of the global trade revolution that is transforming Southern California factories into warehouses, and adjacent working class communities into economic and environmental sacrifice zones choking on cheap goods and carcinogenic diesel exhaust.”

City of Industry is a stunning exposé on the construction of corporate capitalist spaces. Valle investigated an untapped archive of Industry’s built landscape, media coverage, and public records, including sealed FBI reports, to uncover a cascading series of scandals. A kaleidoscopic view of the corruption that resulted when local land owners, media barons, and railroads converged to build the city, this suspenseful narrative explores how new governmental technologies and engineering feats propelled the rationality of privatization using their property-owning servants as tools.

Valle’s tale of corporate greed begins with the city’s founder James M. Stafford and ends with present day corporate heir, Edward Roski Jr., the nation’s biggest industrial developer—co-owner of the L.A. Staples Arena and possible future owner of California’s next NFL franchise. Not to be forgotten in Valle’s captivating story are Latino working class communities, living within Los Angeles’s distribution corridors, who suffer wealth disparities and exposure to air pollution as a result of diesel-burning trucks, trains, and container ships that bring global trade to their very doorsteps. They are among the many victims of the City of Industry.

Victor M. Valle is a professor and chair of the ethnic studies department at California State Polytechnic University. An investigative reporter formerly with the Los Angeles Times, he is the coauthor of Latino Metropolis, as well as several other books, articles, and literary collections.

“The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Victor Valle is the pit bull of Los Angeles

writers. In the mid-1980s he sunk his teeth into a story about corruption in the

strange city-state of Industry, and he never let go. Now, after twenty years of

relentless sleuthing, he tells a tale of epic greed that began in the dusty hills east

of Los Angeles but now engrosses the very centers of power in Southern

California’s Pacific Rim economy. As a noirish revelation of power and secret

history of L.A., this is a stunning non-fiction sequel to Robert Towne’s ‘Chinatown.’”

—Mike Davis, author of City of Quartz.