The Docks

The Docks

The Docks

The Docks

Synopsis

The Docks is an eye-opening journey into a giant madhouse of activity that few outsiders ever see: the Port of Los Angeles. In a book woven throughout with riveting novelist detail and illustrated with photographs that capture the frenetic energy of the place, Bill Sharpsteen tells the story of the people who have made this port, the largest in the country, one of the nation's most vital economic enterprises. Among others, we meet a pilot who parks ships, one of the first women longshoremen, union officials and employers at odds over almost everything, an environmental activist fighting air pollution in the "diesel death zone," and those with the nearly impossible job of enforcing security. Together these stories paint a compelling picture of a critical entryway for goods coming into the country--the Port of Los Angeles is part of a complex that brings in 40% of all our waterborne cargo and 70% of all Asian imports--yet one that is also extremely vulnerable. The Docks is a rare look at a world within our world in which we find a microcosm of the labor, environmental, and security issues we collectively face.

Excerpt

The intention behind this book is to introduce readers to the world at the Port of Los Angeles through my eyes as much as possible, by planting myself in the middle of the maelstrom that is the docks and describing what I see. That kind of approach, I’ve always felt, gives me a unique objectivity. in theory, my point of view isn’t cluttered either with prejudices that might filter out what I don’t want people to know about or with efforts to promote a particular image. As a journalist, I’m simply there to piece together a story based on what I see and hear, recording little slices of life as they present themselves.

Trouble is, when it comes to a place as complex as the docks, simple observation doesn’t get the complete story. I also needed the perspectives of people who have seen the same things for years and have a pretty good idea what it all means in larger —and smaller—contexts. Thus, as you can see by perusing the references listed at the end of the book, my research was heavily dependent on interviews and nearly devoid of scholarly texts, no matter how knowledgeable such texts may have been. I wanted to understand this world as the people who work, live, and do business there understand it.

As I suggest in the opening chapters of the book, this wasn’t easy. the first time I called the port’s public information office to set up an . . .

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