news and reviews about book

The San Fernando Valley: America’s Suburb by Kevin Roderick was first published in 2001 by Los Angeles Times Books. The revised edition came out in 2003. It is available at many booksellers and through If you cannot locate the book, or have questions for the author, contact Kevin by email.


Meet Kevin at Times book festival

I always look forward to spending time with others who appreciate Valley history at the L.A. Times Festival of Books held each April at UCLA. This year, I will be signing books in the Angel City Press booth on Saturday, April 23rd from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Come by and say hello if you are around. If you’ve never been, the festival is the biggest books event in Los Angreles during the year, and it’s free except for UCLA’s parking charge.


Good news for America’s Suburb


LogoLos Angeles Times Books, publisher of The San Fernando Valley: America’s Suburb, recently announced it was getting out of the books business. This has led to some disruption in availability. Fortunately, America’s Suburb has been picked up by the respected Angel City Press. The Santa Monica-based press has published several important books on Los Angeles history and has exciting plans for America’s Suburb. The book will soon be easier to locate at bookstores and through Of course the book may also be ordered directly from the Angel City website.

Praise for America’s Suburb



Raves From State Librarian Kevin Starr

Dr. Kevin Starr, the honored historian and emeritus California State Librarian, lauded The San Fernando Valley: America’s Suburb during a guest lecture on Valley history at California State University, Northridge. Waving a copy from the podium, he called it “Just a superb book…this is history the way I like it.”

In his address to faculty, students and local history aficionados, Dr. Starr said the narrative of events and trends told in the book reflects the fascinating story of California’s development. He complimented author Kevin Roderick for deftly linking the contemporary San Fernando Valley to past events that helped shape the present.

Dr. Starr spoke at CSUN to commemorate San Fernando Valley History Day and to mark the unveiling—by the university’s Oviatt Library—of a new digital archive of Valley historical photos and documents. Dr. Starr called the online archive a valuable addition to the body of historic material available on the Valley. The author joined Dr. Starr in congratulating the university on the accomplishment.

To visit the CSUN digital archive, go to our Links page.


More praise

“What a great read! This is the book the Valley has needed.”

•Gloria Ricci Lothrop, W.P. Whitsett Professor of California History at Cal State University, Northridge.

“Roderick is a good reporter and writer, and the book is full of interesting yarns that are well-told…Unlike many other writers, he does provide a good sense of the Valley as an evolving place that has a layered past, not just one postwar suburban explosion…a good start for people on both sides of the hill who must truly understand the Valley to make informed choices about its future”

• Los Angeles Times Book Review.

“Highly recommended..Outstandingly written, very compelling history..Kevin is a very fine writer.”

• Larry Mantle, host of “AirTalk” on KPCC-FM (89.3) in Pasadena.

“I recommend really dug out incredible stuff.”

• Barbara Osborne, host of “Deadline L.A.” on KPFK-FM (90.7) in Los Angeles.

“It’s a beauty.”

• Jay Kugelman, host of KPFK’s “Sound Exchange” program.

Previous news


Kevin at Times Festival of Books

Author Kevin Roderick signed numerous copies of America’s Suburb for fans of Valley history at the 2004 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at UCLA. He got to speak with a number of history buffs and answer their questions. The festival, always free, is the major literary event of the year in Los Angeles.

Author to Speak at Borders Northridge

Kevin Roderick discussed The San Fernando Valley: America’s Suburb and signed books for friends of Valley history at the Borders store in Northridge Fashion Center on Wednesday, June 11, 2003.

Kevin appeared along with Los Angeles Times columnists Bill Plaschke and Chris Erskine, whose books have recently been published. It marked a return to Borders Northridge by Kevin, whose first appearance in September, 2001 was met with an enthusiastic standing-room audience. The Borders outlet in Northridge has sold more copies of America’s Suburb than any store in the country.

Kevin at 2003 UCLA Festival

Author Kevin Roderick signed books and spoke with fans of Valley history for two busy hours at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books on Saturday, April 25. The annual festival, the largest literary event in Los Angeles, was held on the UCLA campus in Westwood.


Revised Edition in Stores

The first printing of The San Fernando Valley: America’s Suburb sold out thanks in part to high demand for the book as a gift. With the book’s success, a second printing with up-to-date revisions was published in February 2003.

The new edition reflects more recent major events including the election defeat of a proposal to let the Valley leave Los Angeles and form its own city.

We apologize to readers who could not easily find a copy during the holiday season. The new printing is now in bookstores and also is available on-line from

Kevin in Demand

During the election campaign over secession of the Valley from Los Angeles, Kevin was interviewed by the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, San Jose Mercury, Boston Globe, St. Petersburg Times, National Public Radio, Associated Press and The Scotsman of Edinburgh, Scotland.

He also appeared as a guest panelist on “Secession 101,” an information program on L.A. City Channel 36, and was the featured guest on KPFK-FM’s media review program “Deadline L.A.”

The July 2002 issue of Los Angeles magazine carries an article by Kevin on the rise of Latinos to political power in the East Valley. An earlier article in Los Angelesexplored the attraction of secession to potential candidates for the office of mayor.

The Los Angeles Times recently published Op-Ed page pieces by Kevin on the Valley’s maturing profile and the importance of acknowledging the area’s rich and independent history during the secession controversy. Previously, Kevin wrote an article in the Los Angeles Times Magazine about the evolution of the Valley from an idyllic suburb into a metropolitan region.

To read any of the Valley articles by Kevin Roderick, click on this link, which will open in a separate window.


Big Crowd at 2002 L.A. Times Festival of Books

Kevin spoke to a packed panel of readers and signed copies of the book at the year’s largest literary event in Southern California, the Festival of Books presented by the Los Angeles Times at UCLA on April 27-28, 2002.

Kevin participated in a panel titled “Beyond the Crabgrass: True Tales from Suburbia.” On the panel were D. J. Waldie, the author of an evocative memoir of his hometown of Lakewood, Calif., and Sandra Tsing Loh, the performer, commentator and author of A Year in Van Nuysand other books. The panel’s moderator was Al Martinez, the columnist for the Los Angeles Times.

Questions from the audience showed there is a high level of public interest in the Valley as a topic. As Kevin signed books at various locations during the festival, many readers approached him to talk about the book and about Valley history.


Author in the News

Nearly 100 invited guests and students attended Kevin Roderick’s presentation of the annual Valley Pioneer Lecture at California State University, Northridge. His talk covered the Valley’s rise from an agricultural outpost of 3,000 residents at the start of the 20th century into a world-famous suburban destination with a population of more than 1.7 million.

Kevin and his book were also featured in the Winter 2001-2002 issue of Northridge, the CSUN alumni magazine.

The book’s publisher, the Los Angeles Times, hosted more than 150 community leaders, residents and history aficianados to kick off publication. The reception was held at the Andres Pico Adobe in Mission Hills, Ca. Kevin signed books and spoke on the rich and colorful history of the adobe, one of the oldest restored buildings in Los Angeles. The Andres Pico Adobe also houses the San Fernando Valley Historical Society.

Kevin and his work were cited in a recent report on the Valley’s changing population conducted for the Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley and in an L.A. Times Opinion section article by the report’s author Joel Kotkin. America’s Suburb has also been used in courses at Pepperdine University and CSUN.


Previous Appearances by
Author Kevin Roderick

L.A. Times Festival of Books at UCLA.

Los Angeles History Conference, Gene Autry Museum of Western Heritage.

Valley Pioneer Lecture, California State University Northridge.

UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and Western Knight Center for Specialized Journalism conference, “Covering Urban Growth: The Reshaping of Our Cities and Suburbs.”

Friends of the Oviatt Library, California State University Northridge.

Pepperdine University, Davenport Institute for Public Policy.

Glendale Community College Humanities/Social Sciences Lecture.

Valley Film Festival

“Life and Times” with Jess Marlow and Val Zavala on KCET-TV Channel 28, the leading Public Broadcasting system station in Southern California.

“Larry Mantle’s Airtalk” on KPCC-FM (89.3), the National Public Radio station in Pasadena.

“Deadline L.A.” with Barbara Osborn on KPFK-FM (90.7),Pacifica Radio in Los Angeles.

“Secession 101,” program on L.A. City Channel 36.

“Connie Martinson Talks Books.”

“On Point,” Los Angeles City Channel, Adelphia Cable, Time-Warner Cable.

“Sound Exchange” with Jay Kugelman, KPFK-FM .

“Shelf Life” with Marcos McPeek Villatoro, KPFK-FM .

Dawson’s Books, Los Angeles.

Dutton’s Books, North Hollywood, Ca.

Skylight Books, Los Angeles.

Barnes & Noble, Encino, Ca.

Borders Books Music and Cafe, Northridge, Ca.

Borders Books and Music, Canoga Park, Ca.

Borders Books and Music, Glendale, Ca.

Penelope’s Cafe Books & Gallery, La Canada Flintridge, Ca.

Andres Pico Adobe, San Fernando Valley Historical Society.

Valley College Historical Association.