The Environment: Defending Los Angeles

Acerb and iconoclastic, London's Reyner Banham occupies a special niche among critics of the man-made environment. He inspects his chosen topic —usually architecture or mass culture or both—with unblinkered eyes. Then he devastates all conventional wisdom about it. His new book, Los Angeles (Harper & Row; $6.95), is no exception. Spurning the popular pastime of condemning Los Angeles as an eyesore of shallow pretensions, Banham raises a rare intellectual voice in its favor. "Los Angeles does not get the attention it deserves," he writes. "It gets attention, but it's the attention Sodom...

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