• Floodpath

  • The Deadliest Man-Made Disaster of 20th Century America and the Making of Modern Los Angeles
  • By: Jon Wilkman
  • Narrated by: Charles Constant
  • Length: 10 hrs
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (44 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Just before midnight on March 12, 1928, the St. Francis Dam, a 20-story-high concrete structure just fifty miles north of Los Angeles, suddenly collapsed, releasing a devastating flood that roared 54 miles to the Pacific Ocean, destroying everything in its path. It was a horrific catastrophe, yet one which today is virtually forgotten.

With research gathered over more than two decades, award-winning writer and filmmaker Jon Wilkman revisits the deluge that claimed nearly five hundred lives. A key figure is William Mulholland, the self-taught engineer who created an unprecedented water system, allowing Los Angeles to become America's second largest city, and who was also responsible for the design and construction of the St. Francis Dam.

Driven by eyewitness accounts and combining urban history with a life-and-death drama and a technological detective story, Floodpath grippingly reanimates the reality behind LA noir fictions like the classic film Chinatown. In an era of climate change, increasing demand on water resources, and a neglected American infrastructure, the tragedy of the St. Francis Dam has never been more relevant.

©2016 Jon Wilkman (P)2020 Tantor

What listeners say about Floodpath

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Incredible story

I grew up in Cali and have bee in all the areas divided within this book. I was shocked to learn such an important discussion regarding water and power was never discussed in school. We never asked the question, when i turn on the water faucet, where does the water come from? It was robbed from NoCal communities, transported to southern Cali and ultimately left mono lake dry.

2 people found this helpful

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Great History of LA

This was a very good listen. A great history of the St. Francis Dam as well as many interesting facts of LA. This book really examines the culpability of William Mullholland in this disaster. This may be a little known tragedy, but it is a great read and a fair thorough representation of all involved.

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Interesting and informative

Narration: clear and nicely paced—neither too slow, nor too fast.

Story: a thorough background on los angeles’ growth (1850–1950) with specific attention given to key events, circumstances, and persons who affected and effected water policies and infrastructure.

I’ve lived in California all my life and knew nothing about the tragic damn collapse. What an eye opener.

I live only 15 miles from the recently failed Oroville dam, so this listen was of special interest to me.

Highly recommended.

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  • dw
  • 02-21-22

Exciting and Engaging

Excellent book! It truly brings this historic event to life. Well researched and well worth a read.