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Water to the Angels: William Mulholland, His Monumental Aqueduct, and the Rise of Los Angeles

Water to the Angels: William Mulholland, His Monumental Aqueduct, and the Rise of Los Angeles

by Les Standiford


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The author of Last Train to Paradise tells the story of the largest public water project ever created—William Mulholland’s Los Angeles aqueduct—a story of Gilded Age ambition, hubris, greed, and one determined man who's vision shaped the future and continues to impact us today.

In 1907, Irish immigrant William Mulholland conceived and built one of the greatest civil engineering feats in history: the aqueduct that carried water 223 miles from the Sierra Nevada mountains to Los Angeles—allowing this small, resource-challenged desert city to grow into a modern global metropolis. Drawing on new research, Les Standiford vividly captures the larger-then-life engineer and the breathtaking scope of his six-year, $23 million project that would transform a region, a state, and a nation at the dawn of its greatest century.

With energy and colorful detail, Water to the Angels brings to life the personalities, politics, and power—including bribery, deception, force, and bicoastal financial warfare—behind this dramatic event. At a time when the importance of water is being recognized as never before—considered by many experts to be the essential resource of the twenty-first century—Water to the Angels brings into focus the vigor of a fabled era, the might of a larger than life individual, and the scale of a priceless construction project, and sheds critical light on a past that offers insights for our future.

Water to the Angels includes 8 pages of photographs.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062251459
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 02/23/2016
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 205,528
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.79(d)

About the Author

Les Standiford is the bestselling author of twenty books and novels, including the John Deal mystery series, and the works of narrative history The Man Who Invented Christmas (a New York Times Editors’ Choice) and Last Train to Paradise. He is the director of the creative writing program at Florida International University in Miami, where he lives with his wife, Kimberly, a psychotherapist and artist. Visit his website at


Miami, Florida

Date of Birth:

October 31, 1945

Place of Birth:

Cambridge, Ohio


B.A., Muskingum College; M.A. and Ph.D., University of Utah

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi

Author's Note xiii

1 How Dreams Might End 1

2 Distance Between Two Points 9

3 Luck of the Irish 26

4 In Mystery is the Source 34

5 Whose Water is it Anyway? 45

6 A Civil Servant Born 54

7 Road Trip 64

8 Downhill All The Way 74

9 Remove Every Specter 84

10 Have Water or Quit Growing 99

11 Brick Upon Brick 109

12 First Spade 122

13 Best Year to Date 132

14 Fair Monetary Recognition 148

15 Fits and Starts 160

16 Fallout 172

17 If You Dig It, They Will Come 185

18 Last Mile 195

19 Cascade 204

20 In the Shade of Accomplishment 212

21 Let the Bombings Begin 224

22 Failure 235

23 Forget It, Jake. It's Chinatown 251

24 City Of Angels 265

Notes 279

Selected Bibliography 301

Index 307

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