Los Angeles, the summer of 1943. For ten days in June, Anglo servicemen and civilians clashed in the streets of the city with young Mexican Americans whose fingertip coats and pegged, draped trousers announced their rebellion. At their height, the riots involved several thousand men and women, fighting with fists, rocks, sticks, and sometimes knives. In the end none were killed, few were seriously injured, and property damage was slight and yet, even today, the zoot-suit riots are remembered and hold emotional and symbolic significance for Mexican Americans and Anglos alike.
The causes of the rioting were complex, as Mazon demonstrates in this illuminating analysis of their psychodynamics. Based in part on previously undisclosed FBI and military records, this engrossing study goes beyond sensational headlines and biased memories to provide an understanding of the zoot-suit riots in the context of both Mexican American and Anglo social history.