David K. Randall has fully recounted for the first time the legendary Southern California Rindge Family land war in The King and Queen of Malibu: The True Story of the Battle for Paradise, (W.W. Norton & Company, $26.95).
Boston Brahman Frederick Hastings Rindge and his wife, May, bought the old Rancho Malibu Topanga Sequit, more than 13,000 acres, in 1892 for ten dollars an acre. Their spread contained no roads, but a handful of squatter families. The most tenacious of their isolated neighbors was the hardscrabble Decker family.
Rindge, who at the time of his death in 1905 was worth $700 million, wanted Malibu as his private sanctuary. His widow, May, continued to fend off “trespassers”: squatters, neighbors, and county, state and federal officials. In the end, the Rindge family lost their ranch in paradise and have been mostly forgotten, while visitors to Malibu still make pilgrimages to Decker Canyon.
—Brian Dervin Dillon, Ph.D., an archaeologist who has surveyed and excavated in Malibu for four decades