One hundred forty years ago, four men rose from their position as middle-class merchants in Sacramento, California, to become the force behind the transcontinental railroad. In the course of doing so, they became wealthy beyond any measureand to sustain their power, they lied, bribed, wheedled, and, when necessary, arranged for obstacles, both human and legal, to disappear. Their names were Collis Huntington, Leland Stanford, Charles Crocker, and Mark Hopkins, and they were known as "The Big Four" or "The Associates." Their drive for moneynothing more, nothing lesswas epic. Their legacy is a university, public gardens, museums, mansions, banks, and libraries--and to a large degree California itself, a state that even today owes its aura of "can-do" and limitless possibilities to The Associates.
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Born in England, Richard Rayner now lives in Los Angeles. His previous books include the memoir The Blue Suit and the novels The Cloud Sketcher, L.A. Without a Map, and Murder Book. His work has appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, and many other publications.
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