Chip Jacobs


Chip Jacobs is a bestselling author and journalist.

His latest book is the Kafka-esque true-crime tale The Darkest Glare: A True Story of Murder, Blackmail, and Real Estate Greed in 1979 Los Angeles, which Kirkus Review praised as “engrossingly bizarre” and “entertaining.” Jacobs’ previous work was his debut novel Arroyo, historical fiction set around construction of Pasadena, California’s mysterious Colorado Street Bridge in 1913. It was a Los Angeles Times bestseller, CrimeReads most anticipated book, and Independent Book Publisher Award winner. Prior to them them, he wrote the biography Strange As It Seems: the Impossible Life of Gordon Zahler, an Indies Book of the Year finalist, as well as the environmental social histories The People’s Republic of Chemicals and the international bestselling Smogtown: the Lung-Burning History of Pollution in Los Angeles (the latter two with William J. Kelly). He has also contributed pieces to anthologies, among them the bestselling Los Angeles in the 1970s: Weird Scenes Inside the Goldmine and Go Further: Literary Appreciation of Power Pop. His writing has been honored by, among others, the Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY), the Indies Book of the Year contest, Foreword and Booklist magazines for top books in their genre, The Green Prize for Sustainable Literature, the Southern California Book Festival, the Shanghai Book Awards and as a Chinese “Most Influential” and “Outstanding Popular Science” book. He and his literary subjects have appeared in Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Marketplace, C-Span, Bloomberg, Wired, Slate, Politifact, NPR-syndicated stations, the South China Morning Post, CrimeReads, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and elsewhere.

On the journalism side, Jacobs’ reporting has been published and aired in the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Daily News, CNN, L.A Weekly, the Southern California News Group, the Pasadena Weekly, the Los Angeles Business Journal, and elsewhere. He’s covered everything from secret military aircraft and misguided oversight of LA’s billion-dollar subway network to deadly pollution left behind by defense contractors and the cold case murder of a suburban mayor; in features, he’s explored hamburger-chain empires, predatory realtors, plucky senior-citizen activists, and the renaissance of a disgraced LA councilman. His stories have prompted multiple investigations; influenced Congress on environmental fraud; helped inspire state laws relating to water pollution, slum housing and redevelopment; and stopped millions of dollars in wasteful public spending. For his efforts, 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.