“Davis and Wiener write with passion and deep knowledge . . . an indispensable portrait of an unexplored chapter in history.”

Publishers Weekly

“For new generations growing up in a city whose very history is rarely acknowledged to exist, Set the Night on Fire is a vital primer in resistance, a gift to the future from the past.

The Real LA by Ben Ehrenreich in The Guardian

“Combining comprehensive, mineshaft-deep research with unique firsthand knowledge, [Davis and Wiener’s] recounting of the radical ’60s in Los Angeles will likely not be surpassed.”

The Fire and the Fizzle by Jerald Podair in the Los Angeles Review of Books

“The book proceeds chronologically from 1960, ‘the birth year of a new social consciousness,’ where the ‘method was direct action, nonviolent but unyielding.’ As went civil rights efforts in the South, so went Los Angeles. StNoF is especially good at showing how LA acted as a receiver and transmitter of emancipatory waves, joining in, then leading, as the need arose.”

Los Angeles Is Burning: A new history of ’60s radicalism on the West Coast by Sasha Frere-Jones in Bookforum

Set the Night on Fire “documents a whole world of interconnected, often forgotten rebellions that took place on the streets, on campuses, in schools, on beaches, in churches, at workplaces, in radical newspapers and journals, in temporary political headquarters across the immense grid of the Los Angeles…. Their enthusiasm is reserved for the rebels.. . . the book is full of life and relevance.”

–Andy Beckett in the London Review of Books

“Mike Davis and Jon Wiener’s Set the Night on Fire: L.A. in the Sixties is both a fierce political and cultural history and a geographic corrective.”

True Stories of L.A. in the 1960s by William Deverell in Alta

“Set the Night on Fire is, above all, a historical account of how a rainbow of insurgent social movements tried to peel back the glitter, dismantle the police state, and replace elite white rule and its regimes of segregation, militarism, patriarchy, and conformity with a society oriented toward ‘serving the people.’

Getting to Freedom City by Robin D. G. Kelley in the Boston Review

“Set the Night on Fire is a revelatory history of Los Angeles in the 1960s, undermining pervasive media myths of the era.”

Alex Ross in the Wall Street Journal

“Authors Mike Davis and Jon Wiener unfurl a racist metropolis where politicians are in the pocket of the 1 percent, violent cops literally get away with murder, and the local press — particularly the Los Angeles Times — is in on the fix.. . . The book excavates the forgotten core of L.A. resistance, illuminating those who often took life-risking steps to expose injustice. . . . authoritative and impressive.”

— Erik Himmelsbach-Weinstein in the L.A. Times

This huge and exhilarating work of history aims to restore some depth and accuracy to how we talk about Los Angeles in the 1960s. . . . Weaving between electoral politics and protest movements, from city hall to Sacramento, Davis and Wiener have created an important book to read in a time where LA needs more than ever to be mobilized.

John Freeman, Lit Hub Executive Editor

“There’s a monochromatic picture of Los Angeles in the sixties—all Hollywood pop and Didion ennui—that up close turns out to be made of many different colors and a lot more stories. What more than a million people of African, Asian, and Mexican ancestry–“edited out of utopia”–as Mike Davis and Jon Wiener put it, alongside antiwar feminists and high school students and others did is the heart of this book, and it’s a big heart. No one could gather and tell these intersecting stories better than Davis and Wiener, and their book gives us back a great city’s greatness in its heroes, movements, edges and other centers, so many of them forgotten.”

—Rebecca Solnit, author of My Nonexistence: A Memoir

Set the Night on Fire: A History of LA in the Sixties is a book as vast as the city itself. The authors’ intention seems to have been to provide a comprehensive, intelligent, and popular history of the 1960s in one of the world’s greatest urban experiments, Los Angeles. Their effort is exhilarating, engrossing, and extremely successful.”

The Sixties in the City of the Fallen Angels by Ron Jacobs in CounterPunch

“From the Ash Grove to Aztlán, from the Valley to Vietnam, it’s all here. Step inside and meet an amazing array of characters who risked life and limb to drag the City of Angels out of the dark ages. In showing how struggles for free health care, adequate housing, functional schools, racial and sexual liberation, new forms of creative expression, and the human right of freedom from brutal police violence came together into a mighty torrent, Wiener and Davis have written a revolutionary history for an age of continuing contradictions.”

—Daniel Widener, author of Black Arts West: Culture and Struggle in Postwar Los Angeles

“This is history from below, in the very best sense, focusing on grassroots heroes and struggles. A magnificent mural of the local Sixties, written with verve and passion by two of my favorite locals.”

—Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, The Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer

“A vivid portrait of Los Angeles during a turbulent decade. Davis and Wiener experienced firsthand the political, cultural, and social upheavals that roiled LA in the 1960s.. . . In addition to their own recollections, the authors mine abundant archival sources and interviews to create a richly detailed portrait of a city that seethed with rebellious energy. . . . A spirited history of urban unrest that laid the groundwork and inspiration for future activists and reformers.”

Kirkus Reviews

“Beyond a chronicle of a metropolis or an era, Set the Night on Fire thoroughly illustrates the myriad dynamics of inequality, exposes the short- and long-term consequences of discrimination and offers hope in overcoming socio-economic divisions through unyielding activism for equal rights and equal justice – an activism that ought to begin with the question: ‘What happens to a dream deferred?’”

Jeff Roquen in the LSE Review of Books

“Davis’s and Wiener’s L.A. is not the glossy theme park of mansions, beaches, and glitzed-up noir, but the undercity of outsiders struggling to get out from under the savage police to stake out a place in the sun. Their book is a rare and necessary saga of unsung heroes, vicious authorities, and unpunished crimes–a timely reminder of opportunities seized and opportunities wasted.”

—Todd Gitlin, author of The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage

Set the Night on Fire will be an indispensable resource for scholars and activists interested in radical politics in Los Angeles for years to come.

Review: Exploring the radical politics of Los Angeles in the 1960’s by Sean Dempsey, S.J. in America The Jesuit Review

“The great task of Set the Night on Fire is to remedy the erasures of the black, brown and queer activists who put their bodies on the line. Mike Davis and Jon Wiener remind us that what there is of progressivism in the city today (we can debate how much) has a very deep history of struggle against unforgiving reactionary forces. Revolutionary artist- nuns, educator-organizers and free-jazz visionaries are just a few of a vast cast of characters that together paint a stirring portrait of a visionary Los Angeles ever-emerging from the shadows of the old order. It’s high time radical LA came out of the closet. This book blows the door wide open. Viva Los Angeles Libre!”

—Rubén Martínez, author of Desert America: A Journey Across Our Most Divided Landscape

Los Angeles’s recent past, as it is recounted in Set the Night on Fire, makes America’s present seem somehow less surprising, but no less depressing.”

Set the Night on Fire by Mike Davis and Jon Wiener – review by Sean O’Hagan in The Observer

“Set The Night on Fire provides a comprehensive overview of how every disenfranchised group in L.A. in the ‘60s fought for their rights. An indispensable tool for students of California history, civil rights, and sociology.”

Set the Night on Fire by Mike Davis and Jon Wiener – review on Slums Off Hollywood Boulevard

“A detailed and scholarly account of Los Angeles counterculture (…) an eerily relevant book right now, with a similarly wide gap between mainstream media’s accounts of protests and riots, and what can be found on Twitter or blogs.

Set the Night on Fire by Meg Stivinson on The Fiction Addiction

“This book can be playful, confrontational, analytical and reverential.”

“If the book aims to fan new sparks of rebellion and set nights on fire again, metaphorically if not literally, it also aims to show that L.A. was in many ways the epicenter of 1960s rebellion, and that sometimes things happened there first and later caught on around the country. The book can be rather preachy about the uniqueness of L.A., though the authors also show that what was happening in L.A. was also happening elsewhere. It was unique and it was similar.”

Set the Night on Fire : L.A. in the Sixties by Jonah Raskin on The Rag Blog

“Set the Night on Fire, isn’t just a stunning portrait of a city in upheaval half a century ago. It’s a history of uprisings for civil rights, against poverty, and for a better world that speaks directly to our current moment of mass protest.

The Many Explosions of Los Angeles in the 1960s by Samuel Farber

“Mike Davis and Jon Wiener’s history of Los Angeles in the 1960s can sometimes feel as long as the decade itself, but is a monumental and moving tribute to a heroic, violently suppressed moment of possibility.”

No Time to Wallow in the Mire by Ben Thompson

In this passionate, lovingly detailed historical account of the struggle for social justice from multiple sectors of society in Los Angeles during an epic American decade, Mike Davis and Jon Wiener have written a history of activists who believed in democracy and demanded justice. It is a brilliant history of sweeping social movements and counterculture that makes earlier narratives of the history of Los Angeles read like glib dramas of white male power and real estate development.

Book Review: Set the Night on Fire by Lane Barden 

“Two veteran authors allow themselves vast detail to tell about us about the cradle of “counterculture,” in all the far-flung rebellious meanings of the term. It is also the story of L.A.’s contested racial space, with contradictions ranging from radicalized white youngsters in the suburban sprawl to Chicano Teamsters breaking strikes.”

Set the Night on Fire: L.A. in the Sixties by Mike Davis and Jon Wiener by Paul Buhle

Set the Night on Fire, a “Movement history” of LA, offers an account of the social and political currents of that pivotal decade.

We can do more than repeat the past; we can also learn from it. That gives reason for hope and as Set the Night on Fire makes clear, hope has always been Leviathan’s great antagonist.

The Fire Last Time: Looking Back at a Decade of Riot and Revolt in Los Angeles by Robert Edward Anasi

At over 640 pages, Set the Night on Fire is long, but a quick read. The prose is sharp, impassioned, and excitable. The subject matter is relevant to readers from a variety of backgrounds. 

Above all, Set the Night on Fire is a serious, informative book that is also a pleasurable, fun, and inspiring read.

Set the Night on Fire: L.A. in the Sixties by Andrew S. Baer on Criminal Law Criminal Justice Books Rutgers University

Set the Night on Fire successfully straddles the line between synthesis and original work, a common feature of Davis’s scholarship.

Radical Movements In 1960s L.A. — A Review Of Set The Night On Fire, Ryan Reft on The Metropole