Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Colossus: Hoover Dam and the Making of the…

Colossus: Hoover Dam and the Making of the American Century (edition 2010)

by Michael Hiltzik

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
183964,645 (4)18
Title:Colossus: Hoover Dam and the Making of the American Century
Authors:Michael Hiltzik
Info:Free Press (2010), Edition: 1st, Hardcover, 512 pages
Collections:Tim's Books, Your library

Work details

Colossus: Hoover Dam and the Making of the American Century by Michael Hiltzik


Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 18 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
This is a very interesting history, informative and well written. In telling the story of the desire for, the fight and planning for and the construction of this engineering marvel, Hitzik is telling many interlocking stories. Most prominent is the recounting of the history of water rights in the American southwest, and the fighting between the states of that region for use of the waters of the Colorado River. Hitzik tells of the early attempts to control the river and make use of the river through irrigation and engineering, including canals and aqueducts. He describes how the ability to use the river for irrigation has transformed that formerly desert region and allowed Las Vegas and, especially, Los Angeles to explode into mega-cities. The politics of the fight to create the dam as a public rather than a private enterprise is very interesting and has resonance in today's political battles, as well. The detailing of the engineering itself, and the ways in which new procedures and technologies had to be designed to build this mammoth dam, is quite riveting. The ways in which the contractors made sure to squeeze every possible nickel of profit out of the project, sometimes fraudulently and very, very frequently at the expense of the safety and the lives of the thousands of construction workers involved in the project make depressing but hardly surprising reading. At least two full chapters are devoted to describing the ways in which the very real danger to the workers, danger that came in all sorts, was purposefully ignored by the construction company in order that they might rush the job and therefore maximize their profits. workers' attempts to organize in order to improve their lots (in addition to the danger, pay rates could be lowered at any time and often were) were crushed ruthlessly. And after all, this was all going on in the middle of the Great Depression. Where were these men and their families going to go? The whole thing gives us America in a nutshell, particularly at that point in history: the whole range from dynamic designers, builders and innovators to insatiable greed mongers and ruthless exploiters. ( )
1 vote rocketjk | May 23, 2014 |
The Hoover Dam--what an achievement! This well researched and competently written history covers all aspects of its creation, political, personal, labor, engineering, environment. ( )
  gbelik | Nov 5, 2013 |
A sweeping book on Hovver Dam. Goes through history of the area, but only from modern times. Really enjoyed. Would liked to have gotten more info about the engineering of the dam, as well as more photos. ( )
  bermandog | May 25, 2013 |
Outstanding story of mans attempt to tame the Colorado River. The history provided by the book of what led up to building the dam was Fascinating. It could never happen today the environmentalists would block it from ever being built and the unions would make it too cost prohibitive. ( )
  zmagic69 | Jun 6, 2012 |
I’m a big fan of history, and especially enjoy reading histories of some of the biggest projects and/or events of American history. Stephen Ambrose and David McCollough are two of my favorite authors in this genre. Ambrose’s accounts of the Lewis and Clarke expedition and the building of the transcontinental railroad, and McCollough’s books detailing the Panama Canal and Brooklyn Bridge construction are among the best I’ve read. Therefore, when I saw this work on the history and construction of the Hoover Dam, one of the greatest feats of engineering in history, I was more than excited to order and read it.

This is a good book. It more than competently covers the details and the personalities behind the Dam, the region and the historical era. When compared with the works cited above, it falls short however. One issue is the paucity of photographs and diagrams contained in the book. In the presence of highly detailed descriptions, simple diagrams or descriptive photographs would have been extremely helpful.

The second problem I encountered was the blatantly obvious political bias held by the author. If Hoover was the smarmy, autocratic, hypocritical blowhard that the author clearly paints him to be, a simple recitation of the facts could allow the reader to come to that conclusion. Instead, the author frequently peppers the facts with “helpful” little adverbs and descriptive phrases to help the reader along.

The Hoover Dam is rightly held up as one of the greatest public works ever undertaken by the U. S. government, at a time when such projects were very difficult to accomplish due to the financing and political restrictions in place before the New Deal and Great Society programs made such mega projects de rigueur. Nevertheless, recognition of the role of government in this case is used by the author as a sledgehammer to denigrate and ridicule the idea that private enterprise can or should have a major role in our society. Time and again, individuals and capitalists of the era are painted as greedy slave drivers, interested only in printing money, to the detriment of quality workmanship or the safety and well being of their workers. The few that were seemingly decent human beings were hopelessly incompetent.

Again, this is not a bad book. It is however, not what it could have been in the hands of Ambrose or McCollough. ( )
1 vote santhony | Jun 6, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
In this detailed and vividly written study -- destined to be the standard history for decades to come -- Michael Hiltzik, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter for the Los Angeles Times, struggles with considerable success to bring it all together: the dam itself, its engineering and design, the mighty and mercurial Colorado River it sought to control, its remote and punishing desert site, the larger-than-life personalities involved in its development and completion, the previously untold story of its troubled labor history, the tragic consequences to human life brought about by its rushed and relentless construction.
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
To Deborah, Andrew, and David
First words
(Introduction) The president's train lumbered across the desert in the dead of night.
By any customary measure, the Colorado River is an unremarkable stream.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Haiku summary

No descriptions found.

The author of "Dealers of Lightning" pens the definitive account of the epic construction of the Hoover Dam, one of the the 20th century's most consequential public works.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
1 avail.
34 wanted
1 pay5 pay

Popular covers


Average: (4)
2 1
2.5 2
3.5 1
4 19
4.5 3
5 4


Two editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 92,116,526 books! | Top bar: Always visible