Colossus: Hoover Dam and the Making of the American Century

tags: infrastructure

A magisterial history of the Hoover Dam, all the way from the problems of the late 1800s that it was meant to solve, through the arguments during its planning, to the construction and beyond (in fact, they don’t even start building the dam until halfway through the book).

The Hoover Dam was an amazing achievement of engineering, for sure, but it came at a huge human cost. Some 140-or-so people died, and labor conditions at the worksite were poor. The construction consortium did some dirty tricks to pay as little as possible and avoid liability for any negative consequences.

In the end, this is the story of an obsessed foreman – the legendary Frank Crowe – who would stop at nothing to push this project through. The actual laborers who completed the work were a fair ways down his priority list.

Wonderful book. I read it in binges of 3-4 hours at a time.

Book Info