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Home » People » Joe Braunwarth » POSC 140 » Under the Perfect Sun

Under the Perfect Sun: The San Diego Tourists Never See

The following questions are drawn from Under the Perfect Sun: The San Diego Tourists Never See by Davis, Mayhew and Miller (The New Press, 2003)

Introduction and Foreword:

The authors talk about a number of contrasts in San Diego.  What are these contrasts and how do they shape both the "illusion" and the "reality" of contemporary San Diego? 

Chapter 1: The Secret City

Why have local capitalists and developers had relatively more success in San Diego than in other other cities?


Chapter 2: Futile Speculations

Why was a railroad important to San Diego and what did not happen when San Diego did not get one?


Chapter 3: One-Man Town

Why did Los Angeles fare better than San Diego in the 19th century?


Chapter 4: Consummate Deceptions

What role did Spreckels play in the development of San Diego?


Chapter 5: Vigilantes and Geraniums

Explain the battle between the "geraniums" and the "smokestacks."  Looking at San Diego today, who do you think prevailed in the long run?


Chapter 6: Seducing the Navy

How and why did San Diego recruit the U.S. Navy instead of more traditional industries?


Chapter 7: The Sales Pitch

Give an example of political deference to business and development interests in San Diego; is this a good or a bad thing in your opinion?  Explain.


Chapter 8: The Other Fleet Arrives

What problems did San Diego have with growth with the development of aircraft production?  Is this similar to contemporary growth problems?  Explain.


Chapter 9: The War Boom

How did the War Boom affect the development of San Diego?


Chapter 10: The Convair Era

Describe how aerospace growth in San Diego created both benefits and problems.


Chapter 11: Big Tuna and Missile Man

What was Marston's vision for a "city beautiful" economy?  How did it and did it not come to fruition?


Chapter 12: Battle of Mission Valley
How Clogged is Our Valley

How did the May Company win the battle of Mission Valley and did "the gorgeous open valley...become with miscellaneous profit-seeking operations, the whoppingest roadside clutter in America"?  Please refer to the article linked above in your response.


Chapter 13: "Bust Town"

What was the "bust" of the early 1960s and how was this dealt with through an "exemplary partnership" between city government and business?


Chapter 14: Rumblings in Smithtown

What is "stucco blight" and how did it happen?  Can you see stucco blight in San Diego today?


Chapter 15: The Mob and the Promised Land

What role did mob money arguably play in the development of San Diego?


Chapter 16: Plotting a Revolution

Explain the harassment of anything regarded as anti-establishment, anti-Copley or anti-Smith.


Chapter 17: The Beige King Overthrown

Describe Smith's influence and downfall.  Does the second detract from the first?  Why or why not?


Chapter 18: Welcome, Mr. Clean

Who was Mr. Clean and why, specifically, was he so successful?


Chapter 19: Wilson Devolves

Why did Wilson "change his diet from souffle to trade unionists and welfare mothers"?  How did this relate to the tradeoff between center and periphery growth?


Chapter 20: The Ponzi Scheme

Describe the rise and fall of Roger Hedgecock; why did he begin his crusade against illegal immigration?


Chapter 21: The Brat Pack

Why did Nick Johnson declare in the mid-1980s that "San Diego currently has the worst city council in the world."?


Chapter 22: Early Retirement

How did high-tech and bio-tech development become so important in the 1990s?


Chapter 23: Playing the City

Stadium articles

What was Susan Golding's relationship to Spanos and Moore?  What did Golding hope to gain?  How does this relate to the new baseball stadium for the Padres and the current problems San Diego is having with the Chargers?


Chapter 24: Once and Future Kings

What are "the institutions of elite para-government"?  Give some contemporary examples.



pp. 180-239 and Biotech Protest article

Describe the history of how San Diego has dealt with dissent (include the roles of vigilantes, newspapers, police, etc.).  How would you currently characterize the climate for free speech and dissent in San Diego?



"Behind the Steel Curtain" pp. 239-261 (see also page 168) and Grocer's Strike

How has the labor movement and union-organizing efforts changed over the last 30 years?  How does this relate to global economic changes?  How does the recent grocer's strike fit into the tradition of union activities in San Diego?


Last Updated: 11/16/2014
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