Lung Burning History.

The smog beast wafted into downtown Los Angeles on July 26, 1943. Nobody knew what it was. Secretaries rubbed their eyes. Traffic cops seemed to disappear in the mysterious haze. Were Japanese saboteurs responsible, a reckless factory? The truth was much worse—it came from within, from Southern California’s burgeoning car-addicted, suburban lifestyle.


Smogtown is the story of pollution, progress, and how an optimistic people confronted the epic struggle against aerial poisons barraging their hometowns. With wit, verve, and a new look at history through never-before-compiled sources, it highlights the bold personalities involved, the corporate-tainted science, the terrifying health costs, the Buck Rogers-like attempts at cleanup, and how the smog battle helped mold the modern-day culture of Los Angeles. There are scofflaws too and plenty of dirty deals,

plus murders, suicides, spiritual despair, and an ever-present paranoia about a mass disaster. With Southern California still the air pollution center of the planet, Smogtown is at once a cautionary tale for those who think global warming can be easily tamed. It holds lessons to be learned, many about the intractability of human behavior and culture itself.Brimming with historic photographs, forgotten anecdotes, and new revelations about L.A.’s murky past, Smogtown is a journalistic classic for the modern age.

— “[A] remarkably entertaining and informative chronicle of the birth and—so far—inexorable evolution of smog…This book is just amazing, a gripping story well told, with the requisite plucky scientists (including Arie Haagen-Smit, a Dutch biochemist who was “the Elvis of his field”), hapless politicians, and a nebulous biochemical villain who just will not be stopped.” —Booklist (Starred review)

— “…Chip Jacobs and William J. Kelly demonstrate that our current air quality is a free-breathing dream compared to the nightmare that enveloped the city for a good portion of the last century…(this) book is not lacking in historical heft. Instead, style delivers substance in true Hollywood fashion, with character-driven plots draped in glamour and sensation … the history of smog has never been so sexy…” — Los Angeles Times

— “This colorful history of smog in Los Angeles begins in the 1940s and ends with a warning call for action. Self-proclaimed “survivors” of “L.A.’s greatest crisis,”…Jacobs…and… Kelly dredge up the story of smog in all its hazy—and sometimes humorous—permutations … the authors offer a zany and provocative cultural history.” — Kirkus

— “Finished with a particularly powerful, forward-looking epilogue, this friendly, accessible history should appeal to any American environmentalist.” — Publishers Weekly

— “…a meticulous chronicle of the city’s signature airborne grime and of the civic and social forces that emerged to stop it…the authors toss in a dose of gallows humor and a light brushing of melodrama…the point of Smogtown is well made: that the truth really is inconvenient …The story of Smogtown is that of a city vying against time to reconcile incommensurables…” —Bookforum

— “The narrative that emerges is more than a tale of a region and a populace besieged by smog; it is also a parable for a nation beset by environmental and social problems…a well-researched cultural history (that) expose(s) both hapless guesses and dogged persistence on the way to smog literacy.” — Slate

— “Writing in a hip, lively style, [Jacobs and Kelly] recount the efforts…to rid L.A. of the smog with a can-do spirit and an unlimited faith in science, technology, and human ingenuity…[An] intriguing social history of an environmental problem that won’t go away. Recommended.” — Library Journal

— an “essential book” — KPCC/Southern California Public Radio 

— “If you’re not a native, this fascinating (though often disturbing) book…will give you some background on the issue. If you are, this entertaining read will take you back to your lung-burning childhood” — Center for Health Journalism

— ”…a literary, scientific and (ideologically) winning (book), known as the atmospheric…Silent Spring” — Shanghai Book Award

— “A climate classic a remarkable…exposé and memoir about air quality, politics and health in Southern California’s smog belt” — ChinaDialogue 

— “… a well-documented, highly engaging, and widely relevant account of southern California’s battle with “the beast”…Smogtown is not your typical “green’s” diatribe…Exposes…how a prodigious population explosion and growing consumption “essentially…turned nature against itself.” — Sustainablog

— “…thoroughly entertaining from start to finish…It’s a dramatic story, playing out like it was written for the screen, with clear protagonists and villains—and humor peppered throughout…a gripping tale that will keep you eagerly turning the pages …” – Earth First

* A BOOKLIST MAGAZINE TOP ENVIRONMENTAL BOOK OF THE YEAR

* INDEPENDENT BOOK PUBLISHERS (IPPY) AWARD  SILVER MEDAL, BEST ENVIRONMENTAL/ECOLOGY WORK

* GREEN BOOK FESTIVAL SILVER MEDAL, BEST NON-FICTION 

* CITY OF SANTA MONICA GREEN PRIZE FOR SUSTAINABLE LITERATURE

* LOS ANGELES MAGAZINE OFFICIAL PICK, AMONG OTHERS

LIBRARIES

* SACRAMENTO BEE AND AMAZON BESTSELLER

* SMOGTOWN MANDARIN – BESTSELLER & MULTI-AWARD WINNER

* “SEVEN THINGS YOU PROBABLY DON’T KNOW ABOUT L.A.’S SMOG” / PODCAST – LOS ANGELES TIMES 

* “CHIP JACOBS…SHARED THE HISTORY OF POLLUTION IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA AND WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS …” – C-SPAN

“YES, CLIMATE CHANGE IS TO BLAME FOR CALIFORNIA WILDFIRE, BUT SOCIETAL GROWTH IS AS WELL“ – THE TAKEKAWAY / NEW YORK PUBLIC RADIO

* “HAPPY 75 YEARS OF SMOG, L.A. WE DON’T WEAR WEAR GAS MASKS ANYMORE BUT THE AIR IS STILL TERRIBLE” – LAIST

“THE DAY SMOG FIRST VISITED L.A. (AND NEVER LEFT)” – KPCC / SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA PUBLIC RADIO

*  “FIGHTING SMOG IN LOS ANGELES” – SCIENCE HISTORY INSTITUTE

“FOR OIL INDUSTRY, CLEAN AIR FIGHT WAS DRESS REHEARSAL FOR CLIMATE DENIAL” – INSIDE CLIMATE NEWS

“JERRY BROWN’S HAZY’S CLAIM: L.A. ‘INVENTS’ SMOG” – POLITIFACT

“FROM ‘SMOGTOWN TO ‘MODEL’ OF THE WORLD?” LA OBSERVED

* “Q AND A: CHIP JACOBS ON STRUGGLING WITH SMOG IN LOS ANGELES AND BEIJING” –  THE NEW YORK TIMES

* “NEW SMOG RULES” – PRESS PLAY WITH MADELEINE BRAND / KCRW 

 * “CHINA SEEKS TO FIGHT SMOG BY BRAINSTORM: ALL IDEAS WELCOME” – LOS ANGELES TIMES

“BEIJING’S SMOG MAKES’S LOS ANGELES AIR LOOK GOOD” – LOS ANGELES TIMES

“LA SMOG: THE BATTLE AGAINST AIR POLLUTION” – MARKETPLACE

* “WHO SMOG REPORT”PRESS PLAY WITH MADELEINE BRAND / KCRW

* “A TALE OF TWO CITIES: “SMOGTOWNS OF LOS ANGELES AND BEIJING“ – ANNENBERG MEDIA CENTER

* “70 YEARS LATER, REMEMBERING THE DAY SMOG BLOCKED OUTSIDE THE SUN“ – KPCC / SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA PUBLIC RADIO

“BARRACK OBAMA SAYS WHEN HE WENT TO COLLEGE IN LOS ANGELES, THE POLLUTION WAS SO BAD…’” – POLITIFACT

* “WHAT IF THE REPUBLICANS CLOSED THE E.P.A.?” – THE NEW YORK TIMES

“JULY 26, 1943: L.A. GETS ITS FIRST BIG SMOG” – WIRED

* BATTLES WON BUT WAR ON SMOG IS FAR FROM OVER” – DAILY BULLETIN

“BREATHE DEEP AND THEN THANK THE EPA THAT YOU CAN” – KCET

“AIR OF DECEIT: A CAP AND TRADE FRAUD LIKE NO OTHER” – PASADENA WEEKLY

* THE HUNTINGTON-USC CENTER FOR CALIFORNIA AND THE WEST

* “DOES THE CLIMATE BILL HAVE A CHANCE?” – THE NEW YORK TIMES

“HOLLYWOOD TRIES TO CLEAN UP ITS ACT” – THE NEW YORK TIMES

* “UNKNOWN LOS ANGELES” PANEL – C-SPAN BOOK-TV – LOS ANGELES TIMES FESTIVAL OF BOOKS

* “LESSONS IN LA SMOG” – “WHICH WAY L.A.?” – KCRW

* “SMOGTOWN: THE LUNG-BURNING HISTORY OF POLLUTION IN LOS ANGELES” – THE LOS ANGELES PUBLIC LIBRARY ALOUD PROGRAM

* AUTHORS@GOOGLE

“A STRONG SIGNAL ON GLOBAL WARMING” – THE NEW YORK TIMES

coming soon…

MANDARIN VERSION (LOS ANGELES HAZE REVELATION/ 洛杉矶雾霾启示录) THROUGH SHANGHAI SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL PUBLISHER; BESTSELLER

* WINNER OF NUMEROUS AWARDS, INCLUDING:

OUTSTANDING POPULAR SCIENCE BOOK BY CHINA’S NATIONAL MINISTRY OF SCIENCE

* SHANGHAI BOOK AWARD

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE INNOVATION AWARD – BY THE CHINESE SOCIETY OF ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES

* CHINESE BOOK AWARD BY CHINA DAILY

*A TOP-INFLUENTIAL BOOK BY XINHUA

* A CHINA NATIONAL LIBRARY RECOMMENDED WORK AT THE WENJIN BOOK AWARDS