Colossus

  • by Michael Hiltzik
  • Narrated by Norman Dietz
  • 18 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

As breathtaking today as when it was completed, Hoover Dam ranks among America's greatest achievements. The story of its conception, design, and construction is the story of the United States at a unique moment in history: when facing both a global economic crisis and the implacable elements of nature, we prevailed.
The United States after Hoover Dam was a different country from the one that began to build it, going from the glorification of individual effort to the value of shared enterprise and communal support. The dam became the physical embodiment of this change. A remote regional construction project was transformed from a Republican afterthought into a New Deal symbol of national pride. Hoover Dam went on to shape not only the American West but the American century.
Michael Hiltzik populates the epic tale of the dam's construction with larger-than-life characters, such as Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, William Mulholland, and the dam's egomaniacal architect, Frank Crowe. Shedding real light on a one-of-a-kind moment in 20th-century American history, Hiltzik combines exhaustive research, trenchant observation, and a gift for unforgettable storytelling in a book that is bound to become a classic in its genre.

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What the Critics Say

"Astutely conveying the characters of its creators, Hiltzik marvelously captures the times of the Hoover Dam." (Booklist)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A Political Biography of the Dam

"Colossus" is Michael Hiltzik's contribution to the public works literature including - for example - David McCullough's "The Great Bridge" and "The Path Between the Seas" along with "Golden Gate" by Kevin Star. In this volume Hiltzik details the history of the taming of the Colorado River during the Western Expansion to the building of the Hoover Dam. The political horse trading, engineering, labor problems, and more other surprises than can be listed here are presented. The book offers an amazing window onto the sacrifices made by those who physically built the dam with their sweat, muscle, and sometimes their lives. Desperate men in desperate economic times. This book focuses on the political economic issues to the exclusion of engineering details. So readers expecting another "The Path Between the Seas" might be a little disappointed. This is more a political biography than an engineering biography of the dam. Otherwise, the prose keeps the listener's attention and the reading of Norman Dietz is excellent.
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- Roy

Good, but far from great

Mr. Hiltzik could have used a really aggressive editor on this one. I love a good backstory, but I have a limit when it comes to running down so many rabbit trails. Also, Norman Dietz's narration is--and I hate to be harsh, but this is the truth--somewhat grandfatherly sounding. A subject matter this interesting should have made for a real "page-turner." As it is, I literally have to listen in short bursts to keep from becoming too frustrated.
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- James

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-01-2010
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio