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'Dreamers and Schemers' Tells The Story Of How The 1932 Olympics Brought Glamour To LA

Barry Siegel discusses his new book, "Dreamers and Schemers: How an Improbable Bid for the 1932 Olympics Transformed Los Angeles from Dusty Outpost to Global Metropolis", at the Last Bookstore. (Courtesy of UC Press.)

When we think of defining moments in the history of Los Angeles, we think about how filmmakers arrived en masse around the time of the first World War, or the 1937 water wars (the basis for the film "Chinatown"). But most people don't know that the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics was also a critical turning point for the region.

History buffs and anyone else in love with Los Angeles will want to come to hear author Barry Siegel discusses his new book, "Dreamers and Schemers: How an Improbable Bid for the 1932 Olympics Transformed Los Angeles from Dusty Outpost to Global Metropolis" (University of California Press). The book launch is from 7:30-9:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 21 at the Last Bookstore. Pre-purchased tickets include — and are the same price as — the book ($29.95).

Siegel, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 2002 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing, is a former national correspondent for the Los Angeles Times. He now directs the literary journalism program at UC Irvine and has written seven books.

"Dreamers and Schemers" tells the strange-but-true tale of a real estate agent with an irrepressible zeal, William "Billy" May Garland. His vision was to lift the area out of the Great Depression by hosting the 1932 Olympic Games. His passion for the project and for the city itself helped transform Los Angeles from a down-on-its-luck town to the high-caliber urban glam metropolis it is today.

Author and literary icon Gay Talese said the book "brings alive the rollicking era when Los Angeles came of age, even as the world plunged into war and the Great Depression. What a remarkable tale. This is masterful storytelling." And Susan Orlean called it, "engrossing, outlandish, fascinating, and a reading delight."

Tickets for this event can be pre-purchased here but are not required.

Dreamers and Schemers: How an Improbable Bid for the 1932 Olympics Transformed Los Angeles from Dusty Outpost to Global Metropolis

  • Thursday, Nov. 21 from 7:30 - 9:30 p.m.
  • The Last Bookstore, 453 South Spring Street, Los Angeles - Google Maps