Stealing Home: Los Angeles, the Dodgers and the Lives Caught in Between by Eric Nusbaum

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Thank you Perseus Books and NetGalley for this free ARC in return for my honest review. I spent 3 years in Los Angeles in the mid-70’s and fell in love with the area. And in the past year I have been fortunate to have read 3 different books about Los Angeles and its Urban Development, athletics and the Dodgers. This book specifically deals with those people who lived in what is now called Chavez Ravine, prior to the baseball stadium these were 3 different communities (Palo Verde, La Loma & Bishop) and most of the focus is upon Palo Verde and the Abrana Arechiga family. The family moved from Mexico to escape the revolution and ended in Arizona and from there made their way to Los Angeles to settle in these hills about 1 mile from downtown. So near, yet so far away, basically forgotten by Los Angeles until a dreamer, Frank Wilkinson, a wanderer and dreamer becomes involved in Urban planning, as well as the Communist Party. Was Frank a Communist? I guess by those old definitions he was, he certainly believed in affordable housing projects and once he got himself into a position of some importance he is the force behind the initial attempts to have Palo Verde, et al, be declared a slum and begin condemnation proceedings to have the land purchased and used for these Housing Projects. Oh gee, we want affordable housing, let’s put it where the Mexicans live and displace them.
We trace the history of Wilkinson, the Arechiga family and the Dodgers move from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in this well researched book. The Dodgers wanted to move west and LA was finally able to offer them this land in Palo Verde because most families had left and accepted the condemnation awards. But the Affordable Housing fell through and eventually the Dodgers get this land to build Dodger Stadium which was state of the art in 1962 and remains so through today.
We follow the hopes, dreams, tragedies and fiascos that all these interests are involved in and along the way we can try and figure out who are the good guys, the bad guys, and wonder if there are either. This is a story that most Angelinos know nothing about, and few outside of LA are aware of what happened and how it came to pass that the Dodgers moved to LA and were able to wrest this land from the city and from the families that had lived there for over 40 years. A very well written book that gives us a lot of the inside and unknown stories about Chavez Ravine. It is a fascinating book that will appeal to broad range of readers who will read this book from differing points of view. 

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