-- RobertEshman,Associate Editor
"Los Angeles from A to Z," by Leonard Pitt and Dale Pitt(University of California Press, $34.95)
Did you know...that the man who headed Los Angeles' first Chamberof Commerce was a French-born Jewish merchant named Soloman Lazard?Or that, during the 1870s, this city's police chief was Emil Harris,a Polish-Jewish immigrant? Or that, from 1933 to 1941, German Naziofficials sojourning in the United States would rendezvous at abuilding on 15th Street near Alvarado, the West Coast headquarters ofthe German-American Bund? Or that Union Bank and Trust Company hasJewish roots? (Before becoming Union, it was Kaspare Cohen Commercialand Savings Bank, named after its founder, a German-Jewish immigrantwho was probably the wealthiest Jew in Los Angeles at the time of hisdeath.)
These and other facts about the City of Angels can be found in"Los Angeles from A to Z," a winning and well-researched compendiumof history, local lore, sociological analysis, scandal, biography,pithy quotes and photographs. Its co-author brothers, Leonard(historian) and Dale (writer) Pitt, have subtitled their opus "AnEncyclopedia of the City and County," and it's darn close. Somehow,they've managed to capture the range of offbeat, complex and polyglotforces that have shaped this constantly evolving metropolis, puttingthem in alphabetical order for good measure. After just a few momentsalone with this book, readers will drive these streets with whole neweyes.
-- Diane Arieff Zaga, Arts Editor