Mike Davis (born 1946) is an American social commentator, urban theorist, historian, and political activist. He is best known for his investigations of power and social class in his native Southern California.
Born in Fontana, California and raised in El Cajon, California, Davis' education was punctuated by stints as a meat cutter, truck driver, and a Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) activist. He briefly studied at Reed College in the mid-1960s but did not begin his academic career in earnest until the early 1970s, when he earned BA and MA degrees but did not complete the Ph.D. program in History from the University of California, Los Angeles. He received a MacArthur Fellowship Award in 1998, and has been a fellow at the Getty Institute.
Davis is a professor in the Department of History at the University of California, Irvine, and an editor of the New Left Review. He also contributes to the British monthly Socialist Review, the organ of the Socialist Workers Party of Great Britain. As a journalist and essayist, Davis has written frequently for, among others, The Nation and the UK's New Statesman. He is a self-defined international socialist and "Marxist-Environmentalist". Davis' scholarship is noted for exhaustive fact gathering from historical accounts, news archives, and scientific works. Reviewers have praised his powerful prose style and his unflinching exposés of economic, social, environmental and political injustice. His book Planet of Slums inspired a special issue of Mute Magazine on global slums. Davis is not without detractors, however; his best-selling book Ecology of Fear in particular was harshly criticized by, among others, political commentator Jill Stewart and by Veronique de Turenine in Salon.