Home » Author Biography

Author Biography

Chip Jacobs is a Los Angeles-area author and journalist. Any questions so far? Beautiful.

His most recent book is  Strange As It Seems: the Impossible Life of Gordon Zahler, the updated biography of a wondrous, little dreamer who existed joyfully, from Hollywood studios to globetrotting destinations, in a ticking time-bomb of a body. Publishers Weekly, in its review, called Jacobs an “exceptional storyteller” and said the “extraordinary life” being told was a “peculiar page-turner” rendered with an “imaginative” bent. It was an Indies Book of the Year finalsit. His other books include the environmental social histories The People’s Republic of Chemicals and the bestselling Smogtown: The Lung-Burning History of Pollution in Los Angeles (both with William J. Kelly); the dark humor, true crime tale The Ascension of Jerry: Murder; the articles collection The Vicodin Thieves and; the privately issued biography Black Wednesday BoysJacobs’  profile of California political figure Richard Alatorre appears in two Greenwood Publication collections, and a long-form true crime story — about an idealist lawyer and a depraved cult — is featured in the bestselling anthology Los Angeles in the 1970s: Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mine.. Jacobs’ writing has been honored by the Independent Publishers’ Book Awards (IPPY), the Indies Book of the Year contest, Foreword and Booklist magazines (for starred reviews and top books in genre), The Green Prize for Sustainable Literature, the Southern California Book Festival, the Hollywood Book Festival, the Shanghai Book Awards, and as a Chinese “Most Influential” and “Outstanding Popular Science” book, among other recognition. Jacobs and his subjects have appeared in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, Marketplace Radio, Slate, Wired, NPR-syndicate stations, Politifact and elsewhere, He is currently writing a historical novel.

If you enjoy his works, please consider reviewing them at his official Amazon Author Page, at Goodreads and recommending them to friends. 

On the journalism side, Jacobs’ reporting has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, the Daily News of Los Angeles, L.A. Weekly, The New York Times, CNN, Bloomberg View, the Pasadena Weekly, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, newgeography.com and other publications. His specialities are investigative, environmental and feature writing, and his stories have had their effect. They’ve prompted investigations by the California Attorney General and other agencies, triggered Congressional action on environmental fraud, contributed to the prosecution of a Los Angeles Councilman, exposed graft at the region’s transit and redevelopment authorities, inspired laws relating to water pollution and state-owned housing, and re-opened the unsolved murder case of a former mayor. He’s also explored the Tommy’s Burgers empire, defense contracting abuses, neighborhood dumpsters, drug thefts at real-estate open houses, crusading grandmothers, and a dorky mogul’s revenge. He’s won seven Los Angeles Press Club // Southern California Journalism Awards, as well as ones from the California Newspaper Publishers Association, the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies and The Los Angeles Times 

Jacobs grew up in northeast Pasadena. In 1985, he graduated from the University of Southern California with BAs in journalism and international relations. In 1988, he earned his MA in international relations, emphasizing national security affairs, from The American University in Washington, D.C.. Jacobs broke into journalism in 1990 at The Los Angeles Business Journal. His passions include Trojan football, life as a Beatles/Led Zeppelin/Squeeze-maniac, electric guitar, forgotten literature, running and super-sugary breakfast cereals. He lives in Southern California with his wife, a USC public relations professor, and their two children.