Watts Riots Chronicler Robert E. Conot Dies at 82

Former Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service editor Robert E. Conot has died at the age of 82. He was an editor with the now defunct service for two decades, retiring in 2009. But Conot was far better known for his exhaustive 1967 book on the Watts riots titled Rivers of Blood, Years of Darkness.

From the Times‘ obit:

To organize his research on the Watts riots, journalist Robert E. Conot sketched out the hour-by-hour progress of events in 1965 on a 25-foot-long stretch of paper, then dressed the diagram in the exhaustive detail for which he became known.

The timeline helped him write “Rivers of Blood, Years of Darkness,” a 1967 study of the smoldering unrest behind the riots. Based on his eyewitness account and extensive interviews, the book was called “brilliant” by Times reviewers. In 1969, one of them wrote: “With honesty and soul,” he revealed the “real, ordinary” people of the “ghetto.”

Another interesting tidbit from the Times‘ obit. Conot refused to use a computer to edit, right up until his retirement. He did all his work on paper. Old school to the end.