Books: Watts: The Model

RIVERS OF BLOOD, YEARS OF DARKNESS by Robert Conot. 497 pages. Banfam. 95¢.

Watts, 1965, was the precursor and model for the race riots of 1967. In the sunny, sullen ghetto on Los Angeles' southeast side, all the elements of racial violence were present: rat-ridden housing, usurious white shopkeepers, broken black families, humiliating welfare-office routines, tough cops, kids with a yen to loot and lash out, and the random spark of a clumsy arrest. In this meticulously researched reconstruction, Robert Conot, 38, a Los Angeles newspaperman and novelist, shows how all those elements combined to produce six days of madness.

Marquette Frye, the...

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