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The Mirage Factory: Illusion, Imagination,…
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The Mirage Factory: Illusion, Imagination, and the Invention of Los… (originale 2018; edizione 2018)

di Gary Krist (Autore)

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14910152,165 (4.18)9
From bestselling author Gary Krist, the story of the metropolis that never should have been and the visionaries who dreamed it into reality   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. At the heart of Los Angeles' meteoric rise were three flawed visionaries: William Mulholland, an immigrant ditch-digger turned self-taught engineer, designed the massive aqueduct that would make urban life here possible. D.W. Griffith, who transformed the motion picture from a vaudeville-house novelty into a cornerstone of American culture, gave L.A. its signature industry. And Aimee Semple McPherson, a charismatic evangelist who founded a religion, 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, in a crescendo of hubris, scandal, and catastrophic failure of design that threatened to topple each of their personal empires. 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.… (altro)
Utente:hbertinelli
Titolo:The Mirage Factory: Illusion, Imagination, and the Invention of Los Angeles
Autori:Gary Krist (Autore)
Info:New York : Crown, [2018]
Collezioni:La tua biblioteca
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Etichette:Non-Fiction, American History

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The Mirage Factory: Illusion, Imagination, and the Invention of Los Angeles di Gary Krist (2018)

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The author, an amateur historian, makes the undergraduate level mistake of choosing to make a story out of history rather than aim at historical accuracy. His selection of three (somewhat) famous early Angelenos is done with the goal of telling a pessimistic account of LA's modern origin. His subjects were hardly the only or the most important contributors to the city, but they share a common theme of finding success and then losing their way. It is a heavy way of making the cliche observation that Los Angeles is all veneer and bluster. A historian could have told any one of these life stories because each is interesting in its way (maybe less so Aimee McPherson), but to use these lives as particularly representative of LA is disingenuous. You don't have to like LA, but if you don't--you also don't need to write a book about it. I'd rather see a more original take than another New Yorker's attempt to take the shine away from beautiful, exciting, and ever-changing Los Angeles. ( )
  ProfH | Feb 20, 2022 |
Worthwhile triptych history of LA ( )
  dualmon | Nov 17, 2021 |
The Last Resort

Back in 1976 the Eagles recorded “The Last Resort” (arguably one of their best) on their Hotel Californiaalbum. It captures an aspect of Los Angeles history that may come as a surprise to those who pick up a copy of Gary Krist’s The Mirage Factory: founding fathers promoted L.A. as a white city, as the whitest city in the U.S.A.; as Iowa transplanted to a better climate. And it was, for a short time, until it grew quickly into the heterogeneous patchwork we know it as now.

Krist expertly and entertainingly explores the key factors that from the approximately the 1890s through to the 1930s grew L.A. from a small city of 50,000 to a metropolis that became the nation’s third largest city (now the second). They are as listed in the subtitle: illusion, imagination, and invention. And in his telling, three personalities personified these three factors: William Mulholland, self-trained civil engineer and thirst quencher; David Wark Griffith, filmmaker and innovator; and Amiee Semple McPherson, evangelist and promoter. As he traces the courses of their lives, all of which exemplified to varying degrees the three factors, he fills in with the history of the region, as well as with other historical figures who contributed to L.A.’ s growth through their effort and boosterism.

As Krist highlights, L.A. was an improbable place for a city, what with no transportation ties, mediocre ports, and limited water. Yet it did have two things going for it: near perfect weather and the ability to attract people with imagination. William Mulholland not only imagined shunting water from the north via an extensive system of aqueducts and dams, but he possessed the self-obtained knowledge, the inventiveness, and the fortitude to see it through. Without him, it could be argued, it would have taken L.A. years more to grow. Mulholland, a driven and gruff sort of fellow, did come to something of a bad end, a victim of his hubris, but in Krist’s portrayal he certainly wasn’t the villain of Chinatown.

To grow, L.A. needed industry and maybe flash, too. The filmmakers migrating from Chicago and New York supplied both, and none did more to help the industry develop than David Wark Griffith. While best known today among the general public for his wildly racist but successful and brilliantly produced The Birth of a Nation, D. W. imagined, invented, and realized on film a new, powerful way to tell stories that entertained and helped transform a somewhat static art form into what we know today, not to mention an economic juggernaut. He thought of himself as more artist than mere entertainer, lost touch with the evolving cravings of audiences, and finished, as Mulholland did, badly, but, like Mulholland, with a legacy. When we think of Los Angeles, we think of Hollywood and movies, though modern L.A. is so much more. This just illustrates the power that filmmakers and film moguls exerted over the growth the city and the imagination of the entire world. Krist offers up a stirring and illuminating history of early moviemaking and studio building and its contribution to the growth of the city.

Those seeking Iowa with better weather where also in search of something more beyond just that, something the salubrious weather seemed to put them in touch with, a yen for spiritualism. Given L.A.’s reputation, some may find it surprising to learn that Pentecostalism received its biggest impetus to grow there via the Azusa Street Revival. As Amiee Semple McPherson proved, Los Angelenos yearned for spiritual fulfillment, and she showed up just in time to provide it with a verve and vigor that helped her build her Angelus Temple, one of the earliest megachurches, and her Foursquare Church. McPherson may be best known for her charisma and her disappearance and reappearance in grand Hollywood fashion, but, according to Krist, she and her church accomplished lots of good for the people of the city. While McPherson, who like the other city builders Krist highlights, came to a bad end, she too left behind a legacy in the form of her church, which continues to thrive today.

People like to joke about the “Left Coast,” but reading The Mirage Factory you come to realize that maybe Los Angeles is really the most American city of all. An entertaining and educational reading experience recommended for all, especially Los Angelenos who want more insight into their hometown. ( )
  write-review | Nov 4, 2021 |
The Last Resort

Back in 1976 the Eagles recorded “The Last Resort” (arguably one of their best) on their Hotel Californiaalbum. It captures an aspect of Los Angeles history that may come as a surprise to those who pick up a copy of Gary Krist’s The Mirage Factory: founding fathers promoted L.A. as a white city, as the whitest city in the U.S.A.; as Iowa transplanted to a better climate. And it was, for a short time, until it grew quickly into the heterogeneous patchwork we know it as now.

Krist expertly and entertainingly explores the key factors that from the approximately the 1890s through to the 1930s grew L.A. from a small city of 50,000 to a metropolis that became the nation’s third largest city (now the second). They are as listed in the subtitle: illusion, imagination, and invention. And in his telling, three personalities personified these three factors: William Mulholland, self-trained civil engineer and thirst quencher; David Wark Griffith, filmmaker and innovator; and Amiee Semple McPherson, evangelist and promoter. As he traces the courses of their lives, all of which exemplified to varying degrees the three factors, he fills in with the history of the region, as well as with other historical figures who contributed to L.A.’ s growth through their effort and boosterism.

As Krist highlights, L.A. was an improbable place for a city, what with no transportation ties, mediocre ports, and limited water. Yet it did have two things going for it: near perfect weather and the ability to attract people with imagination. William Mulholland not only imagined shunting water from the north via an extensive system of aqueducts and dams, but he possessed the self-obtained knowledge, the inventiveness, and the fortitude to see it through. Without him, it could be argued, it would have taken L.A. years more to grow. Mulholland, a driven and gruff sort of fellow, did come to something of a bad end, a victim of his hubris, but in Krist’s portrayal he certainly wasn’t the villain of Chinatown.

To grow, L.A. needed industry and maybe flash, too. The filmmakers migrating from Chicago and New York supplied both, and none did more to help the industry develop than David Wark Griffith. While best known today among the general public for his wildly racist but successful and brilliantly produced The Birth of a Nation, D. W. imagined, invented, and realized on film a new, powerful way to tell stories that entertained and helped transform a somewhat static art form into what we know today, not to mention an economic juggernaut. He thought of himself as more artist than mere entertainer, lost touch with the evolving cravings of audiences, and finished, as Mulholland did, badly, but, like Mulholland, with a legacy. When we think of Los Angeles, we think of Hollywood and movies, though modern L.A. is so much more. This just illustrates the power that filmmakers and film moguls exerted over the growth the city and the imagination of the entire world. Krist offers up a stirring and illuminating history of early moviemaking and studio building and its contribution to the growth of the city.

Those seeking Iowa with better weather where also in search of something more beyond just that, something the salubrious weather seemed to put them in touch with, a yen for spiritualism. Given L.A.’s reputation, some may find it surprising to learn that Pentecostalism received its biggest impetus to grow there via the Azusa Street Revival. As Amiee Semple McPherson proved, Los Angelenos yearned for spiritual fulfillment, and she showed up just in time to provide it with a verve and vigor that helped her build her Angelus Temple, one of the earliest megachurches, and her Foursquare Church. McPherson may be best known for her charisma and her disappearance and reappearance in grand Hollywood fashion, but, according to Krist, she and her church accomplished lots of good for the people of the city. While McPherson, who like the other city builders Krist highlights, came to a bad end, she too left behind a legacy in the form of her church, which continues to thrive today.

People like to joke about the “Left Coast,” but reading The Mirage Factory you come to realize that maybe Los Angeles is really the most American city of all. An entertaining and educational reading experience recommended for all, especially Los Angelenos who want more insight into their hometown. ( )
  write-review | Nov 4, 2021 |
A fascinating account of the history of Los Angeles between 1900 and 1930, grounded in the lives of an artist - the groundbreaking filmmaker David Wark Griffith; an engineer - the famous/infamous (depending on which part of California you live in) William Mulholland; and a charismatic evangelist - Aimee Semple McPherson, who founded the Church of the Foursquare Gospel. I plan on reading more of Gary Krist's books when I get the opportunity. ( )
  Jennifer708 | Mar 21, 2020 |
Krist carries forward the methodology he employed in his masterful portraits of Chicago (City of Scoundrels, 2012) and New Orleans (Empire of Sin, 2014), here applying his skills to LA, "the grand metropolis that never should have been." The fact that the sprawling megalopolis even exists today is something of a small miracle, partly made possible by the early visionaries that championed the city's dreams. As the author notes, rightly, "it was no sensible place to build a great city," offering "few of the inducements to settlement and growth found near major cities in other places." Darting between a macro and micro viewpoint, the author maintains his sharp focus on three primary subjects. The man with the plan was fabled engineer William Mulholland, whose infamous aqueduct and regional dams brought vital water to the city. The one with the dreams was D.W. Griffith, the frustrated actor who became a successful director and producer and transformed the movies from a novelty to a revolutionary medium. Finally, the true believer was Aimee Semple McPherson, a Pentecostal evangelist who used her celebrity to enrapture the troubled souls of LA. Through these three actors, Krist effectively demonstrates the massive opportunities the city represented in the early days of the 20th century as well as the personal tragedies that ultimately brought these dreamers low. Although the author unearths little that is historically groundbreaking, his dramatic portrayals of politics, scandals, sabotage, and bombings make for a rich, rewarding read. He also generates enormous sympathy for these flawed futurists, portraying not only the heights they reached in their respective careers, but also their radical falls from grace. Their fates ranged from an accidental demise to an unforgivable tragedy to that most acute of Hollywood endings: irrelevance.

An entertaining, intertwined tale of triumph, hubris, and Manifest Destiny in the city of angels.
aggiunto da bjappleg8 | modificaKirkus Reivews (Apr 1, 2018)
 
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From bestselling author Gary Krist, the story of the metropolis that never should have been and the visionaries who dreamed it into reality   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. At the heart of Los Angeles' meteoric rise were three flawed visionaries: William Mulholland, an immigrant ditch-digger turned self-taught engineer, designed the massive aqueduct that would make urban life here possible. D.W. Griffith, who transformed the motion picture from a vaudeville-house novelty into a cornerstone of American culture, gave L.A. its signature industry. And Aimee Semple McPherson, a charismatic evangelist who founded a religion, 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, in a crescendo of hubris, scandal, and catastrophic failure of design that threatened to topple each of their personal empires. 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.

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