Rivers in the Desert: William Mulholland and the Inventing of Los Angeles

Margaret Leslie Davis, Author HarperCollins Publishers $24 (303p) ISBN 978-0-06-016698-4
Davis ( Lovers, Doctors and the Law ) offers an arresting biography of William Mulholland, the visionary Los Angeles Water Department engineer who designed the Owens Valley Aqueduct. Completed in 1913, the aqueduct harnessed a river 250 miles north of L.A. and brought water to a city otherwise doomed to stagnation. Not since Roman times had such an immense water project been undertaken; Mulholland was the first American to make practical use of hydraulic sluicing, a technique that would later solve many of the Panama Canal's construction problems. Although it made Mulholland a hero, the aqueduct also devastated Owens Valley towns, farms and individuals, enriched speculators and fostered corruption. Mulholland's legacy is similarly ambiguous. In 1928, his auxiliary St. Francis Dam, supposedly the safest in the world, collapsed, bringing down its creator's lofty reputation as 12 billion gallons of water sprewed across 65 miles to the sea. Mulholland's depression over the disaster persisted to his death in 1935 at the age of 79. These personal and public dramas make for gripping reading. Photos not seen by PW . ( July )
Reviewed on: 08/02/1993
Release date: 08/01/1993
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 978-0-06-092194-1
Paperback - 268 pages - 978-1-58586-137-8
Paperback - 309 pages - 978-1-58754-107-0
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 978-1-58586-267-2
Ebook - 268 pages - 978-0-7592-7778-6
Ebook - 268 pages - 978-1-4976-1377-5
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