The Mirage Factory: Illusion, Imagination, and the Invention of Los Angeles

The Mirage Factory: Illusion, Imagination, and the Invention of Los Angeles Review

A vivid account of the birth of modern Los Angeles, a city founded on manifold fantasies by strong-willed visionaries, from bestselling author and masterful storyteller Gary Krist

Little more than a century ago, the southern coast of California was sleepy desert farmland. Then from it, nearly overnight, emerged one of the world's largest and most iconic cities. The birth and evolution of Los Angeles--its seemingly impossible, meteoric rise--can be attributed largely to three ingenious but deeply flawed people. D.W. Griffith, the early film pioneer who first conceived of feature-length movies, gave Hollywood its industry. Aimee Semple McPherson, a young evangelist and radio preacher, infused the city with its spiritual identity as a hub for reinvention. And William Mulholland, an Irish immigrant turned ditch-digger turned autodidactic engineer, would design the massive aqueduct that made survival in the harsh climate feasible.

But while Mulholland, Griffith, and Semple McPherson were all masters of their craft, each would self-destruct in spectacular fashion. D.W. Griffith, led by his ballooning ego, would go on to produce a string of commercial failures; Semple McPherson would be crucified in the tabloids for fabricating an account of her own kidnapping; and a dam designed by Mulholland would fail just hours after he gave it a safety inspection.

Spanning from 1904 to 1930, The Mirage Factory is the enthralling tale of an improbable city and the people who willed it into existence by pushing the limits of human engineering and peddling fantasies.

Title:The Mirage Factory: Illusion, Imagination, and the Invention of Los Angeles

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    The Mirage Factory: Illusion, Imagination, and the Invention of Los Angeles Reviews

  • Dave

    The Mirage Factory is an extraordinary work tracing the early history of Los Angeles. Krist explores the path that the city took from a small backwater at the edge of the continent with no natural har...

  • Blaine DeSantis

    Another fine book by Gary Krist, who seems to have become a better non-fiction writer than novelist! This time he points his research and book at Los Angeles, a place I have always loved (heck I even ...

  • Biblio Files (takingadayoff)

    Los Angeles is an unusual city in that it was not a natural place for a settlement -- the area had been passed over in favor of Monterey, San Francisco, even San Diego, until the second half of the 19...

  • Dick Reynolds

    This book is one of the most enjoyable pieces of nonfiction that I’ve read in some time. Thanks to author Gary Krist’s story-telling ability it reads like an exciting novel. The setting is the ear...

  • Maine Colonial

    Think about it: Los Angeles is today one of the world’s principal cities, but it wasn’t until around 1900 that its population even reached 100,000. Its explosive development isn’t far out of liv...

  • Laurie

    I’ve read a good bit about the early days of Los Angeles, so there were parts of this book that had me wondering if I’d read this one before. Obviously, no. But there are just only so many ways of...

  • Jt O'Neill

    I spent some time in the Los Angeles area and my mother grew up there so I was especially interested in reading this book about the early days of this city. Gary Krist does a great job of telling the ...

  • Cian O hAnnrachainn

    Los Angeles is an interesting bit of sprawl, and to read THE MIRAGE FACTORY is to come to an understanding on how that urban oasis came to be, in a most unlikely of spots.Gary Krist does a fine job of...

  • John Behle

    A solid three star. I liked this work by Gary Krist enough that I will seek out his other offerings. Krist paints the portrait of Los Angeles using three people from that era, William Mulholland, Aime...

  • Scott  Hitchcock

    Well told history of the population explosion of LA and all of its annexes, the film industry and all the characters who helped build it up. I never realized the impact of Mulholland and the water it ...