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SOUTHLAND BUSINESS

Political Writer Takes Novel Approach to Chronicle Life of Big-Time Developer

November 16, 1986|LISA A. LAPIN

After four years of covering the California political scene for the National Journal, Ron Brownstein saw a bigger chance for riches in stories about the people responsible for the state's rising skylines and disappearing chaparral.

So Brownstein is leaving his comfortable Washington reporting post for the wilds of the California real estate industry, where he will spend two years trailing a Los Angeles developer to chronicle the making--or breaking--of a fortune in what he hopes will be a best-selling book."It will be about the quest for success," said Brownstein.

"I'm looking for the essence of the whole celebration of entrepreneurial success. People are interested in that," he said. An East Coast native, Brownstein considered other burgeoning capitals of real estate development--Denver, Florida and New York--only briefly before choosing California.

"California plays on the American imagination," he said. "It's a breeding ground of fast money, instant success. Fortunes are made and lost with dazzling repetition." Brownstein was attracted to the real estate industry because development companies are imprinted with the personality of the individuals running them more so than investment banking firms or other "get rich quick" professions, he said.

Although his colleagues have cajoled him for leaving the intrigue of politics for business, Brownstein defends his project as a little bit of both.

"It's about the values and motivations and impulses that politicians try to speak to," he said. "It's like covering politics from the other end of the telescope."

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