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. Rayner is the author of nine books. His first, Los Angeles Without A Map, was published in 1988. Part-fiction, part-travelogue, this was turned into a movie L.A. Without a Map. In 1996, Rayner published The Blue Suit, a memoir about his early life that won an Esquire Non-Fiction Award in the UK.
His work has appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, and many other publications. He has worked as an editor at Time Out Magazine, in London, and later on the literary magazine Granta, then based in Cambridge.
Currently Rayner writes a monthly column entitled Paperback Writers for the Los Angeles Times. His work has been translated into many languages. He lives in Santa Monica.
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