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Just before midnight on March 12, 1928, the St. Francis Dam, a twenty-story-high concrete structure just fifty miles north of Los Angeles, suddenly collapsed, releasing a devastating flood that roared fifty-four 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 L.A. noir fictions such as 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.



About the Author

Jon Wilkman

An award-winning book author and recipient of national and international honors for documentary films, Jon began his television career working with Walter Cronkite on the CBS "Twentieth Century" series. Pursuing a special interest in historical subjects, he is the author of "Black Americans: From Colonial Days to the Present," and with his late wife and partner Nancy, "Picturing Los Angeles" and "Los Angeles: A Pictorial Celebration." Jon's most recent book is "Floodpath," an Amazon nonfiction book of the year and winner of the Martin Ridge Award from the Historical Society of Southern California. A new book, "Screening Reality: How Documentary Filmmakers Reimagined America" will be published by Bloomsbury Press in February 2020. As a documentarian, Jon has written, directed and produced programs for PBS, HBO ABC, CBS, NBC, and A&E, as well as major corporate and institutional clients. His seven-part Turner Classic Movies documentary series, "Moguls and Movie Stars: A History of Hollywood" was nominated for three Emmy Awards. Other filmmaking awards include a Trieste International Film Festival Award for "Stranger Than Science Fiction," a Sigma Delta Chi Award for the PBS documentary "Attica," a CINE Golden Eagle honor for the series, "American Images," and Emmys for the public television programs, "Countdown to a Contract, "Turning Points," and "The Los Angeles History Project."In addition to an active career as an author and television producer, director and writer, Jon has lectured on the history of film and documentary production at Fordham University, taught nonfiction writing in the Department of Cinema/Television at the University of Southern California and lectured on the history of Los Angeles at UCLA Extension. A founding member and three-term president of the International Documentary Association, Jon was a leader in the founding of the First International Documentary Congress in association with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.



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