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Rivers in the Desert

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  45 ratings  ·  10 reviews
Rivers in the Desert tells a mythlike American story of how one man, through vision, daring, and engineering genius, invented the Los Angeles of the future, only to fall tragically from grace due to an unforeseen disaster. The man was William Mulholland; his creation, the Los Angeles Aqueduct, the tremendous 235 mile waterway that transformed an arid and sparsely populated ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published April 28th 1994 by Harper Perennial (first published 1993)
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Andromeda M31
Growing up in Los Angeles, the name Mulholland always had mythic connotations. Besides the obvious Mulholland Drive, the name is synonymous with the breaking of the St Francis Dam and the washing away of an entire town. In my mind, I always pictured Mulholland as a thin and dainty scientist adorned with glasses, fussing with an abacus.

Margaret Leslie Davis paints a very different picture.

William Mulholland was in truth a rough and weathered man, an ex-sailor and Irish Immigrant who, instead of
...more
Pam
Fascinating read, especially for anyone who lives or has lived in California. You'll recognize the names of the players, and find out the tactics used to acquire huge tracts of land both in the San Fernando and Owens Valleys, and construct the controversial (still) California Aquaduct along the Eastern Sierras to bring water to Los Angeles. Let's just say they weren't always up front in their dealings.
Patricia
Good documentation on the building of the Los Angeles Aquaduct, told by following the life of William Mulholland. Because there is a certain plot, it reads like a thriller. The immenseness of the project to bring water to Los Angeles and the immenseness of the changes Los Angeles undergoes hereby becomes very clear in the book.
Chinstrapmcdouchebag
ooh dirty whoring robber barons. You liked breaking bad you'll like this
Gwen
A well-written and interesting history of William Mulholland's quest to bring water to Los Angeles, involving an equal mix of engineering, politics, and pioneering spirit. More technical information about the Saint Francis dam collapse would have been appreciated, but then again, I am an engineer. All in all, a captivating story.
Shek
The real life Chinatown. Fascinated less by Jake Gittes' misadventures than the complicated history of LA's water supply? Read this. Good, but in the final assessment, comes off as a little soft on the guy whose dam collapsed and killed 600 people.
Kevin
The history of how Los Angeles gained its water supply deserves better than this elementary-level work. Mulholland can do no wrong while those who disagree with him are described as "moaning," "hissing," "whining," etc. Disappointing.
Demetria
How William Mulholland came to power and brought water to SoCal, a feat only matched by Robert Moses!
Elizabeth Joyce
This is the book that made me fall in love with non-fiction.
Rebecca
history of l.a. water supply.
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