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Scene of the Crime: Photographs from the LAPD Archive

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Los Angeles in the decades after the Depression was a smoldering powder keg of vice, corruption, violence, and some of the most sensational crimes in American history. The Black Dahlia slaying, the Onion Field murder, ?lm star Thelma Todd's mysterious death, the killing of Kansas City gangsters "The Two Tonys" by Jimmy "The Weasel" Fratiano: these are but a few of the cases that once riveted the nation's attention and were captured in striking ...
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Overview

Los Angeles in the decades after the Depression was a smoldering powder keg of vice, corruption, violence, and some of the most sensational crimes in American history. The Black Dahlia slaying, the Onion Field murder, ?lm star Thelma Todd's mysterious death, the killing of Kansas City gangsters "The Two Tonys" by Jimmy "The Weasel" Fratiano: these are but a few of the cases that once riveted the nation's attention and were captured in striking crime-scene and forensic photographs for the Los Angeles Police Department.

Long forgotten in a warehouse, these recently discovered photographs from the LAPD archive form a powerful visual history of the underbelly of Los Angeles from the 1930s to the 1960s. Although disquieting and often brutal, the images have an atmospheric, eerie beauty that belies their documentary purpose. They are accompanied here by captions from police logs and original newspaper accounts, along with an introduction by James Ellroy, the leading practitioner of the Los Angeles noir genre, and an essay by curator Tim B. Wride discussing the archive's importance to social history and the history of photography.

Author Bio: William J. Bratton is the 55th chief of the Los Angeles Police Department and has also served as police commissioner for both the Boston and the New York City police departments. James Ellroy's books include the international best-sellers The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, L.A. Confidential, White Jazz, and American Tabloid. Tim B. Wride is associate curator of photography at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Gorgeously lurid, this perfectly selected set from the LAPD archives comes complete with a foreword from the force's commissioner (who praises the current force and cites its continuing challenges) and a rat-a-tat introduction from Ellroy (L.A. Confidential, etc.), who sees the force as "a tormented giant working toward hard moral truths." The truths that are on display in this book are mostly mortal, and they are, to a page, frightening and absolutely riveting. The LAPD's crime scene photographers, from the 1920s to the 1960s, may have been part of a corrupt force, but they were brilliant photographers, framing and using light in ways that look completely contemporary; the ghastly scenes they capture-mostly of murders and some of execution-style multiple murders-are morbidly arresting. Ellroy dwells on the time travel the photos afford, but other readers will find them timeless, both in the stillness of the deaths they record and in the sameness of the images from decade to decade, as if they were all trapped within the Los Angeles of Barton Fink. That effect can be credited to the book's production team (including editor Deborah Aaronson, designer Brankica Kovrlija and project organizer and archivist Robin Blackman for Fototeka); it gives the book a cohesion and force that most archive-based books, including crime-scene compendia, lack. (Nov.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810950023
  • Publisher: Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/1/2004
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 13.25 (h) x 1.25 (d)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 16, 2004

    Exceptional Photos

    An outstanding collection of crime scene photos detailing what police crime scene photography is all about. There is an artistic style that the photographers had that must be included amongst some of the best artistic photography for the times! A unique view of early Los Angeles and a glimpse of the stuff that Hollywood was built upon. An important book for those interested in true real life CSI!

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