Three visionaries and the creation of Los Angeles

The Mirage Factory
The Mirage Factory
Little more than a century ago, the southern coast of California — bone-dry, harbor-less, isolated by deserts and mountain ranges — seemed destined to remain scrappy farmland. Then, as if overnight, one of the world’s iconic cities emerged. اضافة اعلان

At the heart of Los Angeles’ meteoric rise were three flawed visionaries: William Mulholland, D.W. Griffith, and Aimee Semple McPherson. Mulholland is an immigrant ditch-digger turned self-taught engineer who designed the massive aqueduct that would make urban life in LA possible. Griffith transformed the motion picture from a vaudeville-house novelty into a cornerstone of American culture, giving LA its signature industry. And McPherson is a charismatic evangelist who founded a religion that cemented the city’s identity as a center for spiritual exploration.

All were masters of their craft, but also illusionists, of a kind. The images they conjured up — of a blossoming city in the desert, of a factory of celluloid DreamWorks, of a community of seekers finding personal salvation under the California sun — were like mirages liable to evaporate on closer inspection.

All three would pay a steep price to realize these dreams, but in a crescendo of hubris, scandal, and catastrophic failure of design their personal empires were threatened. Yet when the dust settled, the mirage that was LA remained.

Spanning the years from 1900 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 imagination.


“(Krist) marshals his considerable storytelling skills to capture Los Angeles at a critical moment ... expertly weaving together the stories of Griffith, Mulholland, and McPherson. ... But above all Krist is a nimble scene-setter, and it’s the indelible details he offers that give The Mirage Factory its mesmerizing pull. ... You’ll finish it entertained, informed, and satisfied, as well as ready for more.” — New York Times

“As a writer, Krist is a dream-weaver ... exquisite pacing and seamless shifting between the characters allow their stories to connect. ... I’ve read dozens of histories of the Los Angeles Aqueduct, and none are as viscerally compelling or as clear in detailed descriptions of the complicated machinations as Krist’s account. ... Krist’s book is so good that, like the best movies, it ends up inverting the genre.” — The Washington Post

“Colorful and fresh ...The Mirage Factory is great not only for the wealth of obscure facts Krist manages to weave into his tale of his three larger-than-life figures but also for the evocative word pictures of old Los Angeles and Hollywood he conjures up ... My only complaint after finishing the book was: more, please.” — LA Weekly

“The crimes of Los Angeles, in the hands of Gary Krist, have now filled a fat, juicy volume. ... The Mirage Factory is essential reading for the understanding and enjoyment of America’s dream factory.” — The Philadelphia Inquirer

“A definite page-turner for those with an interest in LA as the booming metropolis we know today as well as the fascinating cross-sections of the American West, biography, public works, water access and scarcity, Hollywood and film industry, religious history, and evangelism.” — Library Journal

About the author

Gary Krist has written for the New York Times, Esquire, Salon, Washington Post Book World, and elsewhere. He is the author of the bestselling Empire of Sin and City of Scoundrels, as well as the acclaimed The White Cascade.

He has been the recipient of the Stephen Crane Award, the Sue Kaufman Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Lowell Thomas Gold Medal for Travel Journalism, and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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