Seemingly lost in the annals of time, the Zoot Suit riots occurred in Los Angeles between June 3 and 13, 1943. By this time the United States was involoved in a “war for democracy,” and an end to “racism and discrimination” as personified by the German Nazis. Yet, during this same period, the virulent racism endemic in this country was remarkable—riots in Detroit and Los Angeles, internment of Japanese-Americans, internment of Italian-Americans—and one wonders whether the war to end all wars should not have begun on our own doorstep. Mazón’s book offers an exciting and alarming view of Mexican-American lifestyles in Los Angeles in the 1940s. The reader is regaled with a description of the events surrounding the origins of the zoot suit: “The Drape Shape, as if made for a much larger man than its wearer, so baggy as to conceal a bad figure but with ample room for a holster under the armpit, was associated with American gangsters, and a version of it known as the zoot suit had been worn by Danny Kaye [!] and Frank Sinatra [!] for a shorter time.” Well, we always knew about Ol’ Blue Eyes—but Danny Kaye?
Publisher: University of Texas
Paperback: 163 pages