1906: A Novel

1906: A Novel

by James Dalessandro

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Product Details

BN ID: 2940016008332
Publisher: Crossroad Press
Publication date: 01/16/2013
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 729,723
File size: 1 MB

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1906: A Novel 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I attended a book club event about two weeks ago where James Dalessandro was speaking. I have belonged to a dozen book clubs in my life; I can't remember many groups who so unanimously loved a novel as they did this one. I literally could not put it down. I am a former literature professor, but not a snob: I love E.L. Doctorow, Margaret Mitchell, Barbara Kingsolver, and I loved James D'alessandro's 1906. I don't remember seeing a collection of more colorful or endearing characters. It grabbed me on page one and just never let up for 360 pages. Mr. D'alessandro's use of a female narrator, who suddenly finds herself in the midst of a story she has been reporting, is brave and for me one of the book's strongest suits. I was thoroughly engaged in the book's main character, Hunter Fallon, a Standord engineering student, son of a legendary police detective, who is bent on bringing scientific techniques into the police department and taking up the mantle of his heroic father. Hunter and Annalisa represented perfectly the buoyant optimism and social radicalism of turn-of-the century America, particularly San Francisco. Perhaps the novel's most endearing achievement is the blending of a dozen story lines: shanghaiiers, slave traders, corrupt politicians, flawed-yet-honest police officers, crusading journalists, a devoted fire chief, a pathological stubborn military commander whose troops dynamited the city into oblvion during the disaster, and my absolute favorite, the great Enrico Caruso. This was the rarest of all novels: it not only entertained me, it educated me about a disaster I knew little about. I have subsequently read 'Abe Ruef's San Francisco', by the late Berkeley history professor, Walter Bean, (and am working on two other non-fiction recounts) which Mr. D'alessandro mentioned as one of his primary sources. It painted an extraordinary portrait of just how violent Ruef and his minions were when cornered by the graft hunters portrayed in 1906: they dynamited the houses of their enemies, employed an army of goons, shot the crusading prosecutor Francis Heney in the face in his own court room, and may well have killed a reformer-minded police chief by a method similar to the one Mr. D'alessandro uses in 1906. I was quite struck by the throughness of the research in 1906. To me, 1906 was one of the high-water marks of historical fiction. I loved it, as many have. All that said, I can't, in good conscience, give it a 5 Star rating. That's an honor I would reserve for Mark Twain or Gabriel Garcia Marquez, but if I could I would give Mr. D'alessandro 4 1/2 stars, because I think this book may be the most engaging I read all year. If you don't find 1906 to your liking, I think it will be a matter of taste, not any lack of talent on the part of the author. Bravo.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was an annoying read because one knows the earthquake is coming eventually, but the political and geological teases leading up to it are pitifully obvious. The plot is downright silly with the main characters zipping to and fro on a motorcycle, escaping serious harm amidst the chaos. The writing is disjointed, with the narrator suddenly appearing out of nowhere, jolting the reader into going back to figure out where she'd been all this time. The numerous coincidences are preposterous and almost laughable. If the 1906 earthquake is of interest to you, read a nonfiction version.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I started this book with high hopes. I read earlier reviews and was eagerly awaiting diving into the book. However I was very disappointed. The book is corny. At times it wants to be sherlock holmes and at other times war and peace. So many characters which become irrelevant as the story progresses. Like I said, I wanted this book to work but it just didn;t. The plot is all over the plot is all over the place and he drops street names constantly yet without a map in the book. A native of San Francisco may be able to follow the path of the characters but unless you drive in the city everyday good luck. Tremendously corny lines throughout make you want to laugh at how bad the writing is. Try it for yourself if you want, but I would stay away.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was riveted from page one. James Dalessandro has woven an epic tale involving a San Francisco that is no more. I was amazed at the accurate detail with which he portrayed this magical city and the realness of the characters who moved this intriguing story forward. Earthquake, Caruso, a brotherhood of righteous policemen fighting the good fight, an unparalleled love story, corruption, violence, despicable villains. All of these elements and more are seamlessly brought together, providing the reader with an edge of your seat ride from start to finish. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought that this book was amazing. I enjoyed every moment of reading it and could hardly put it down. I liked it because of the voice and word choice the author used. I also enjoyed it because of the importance of the Earthquake and how a fictional book can also give so much detail about what really happened. The romance between Hunter and Annalisa stood out to me, as well as the action of the fights and other drama. I would recommend this book to any high school student interested in historical fiction and perhaps even those preferring crime or mystery novels. This is definitely a crime novel, but also has a little bit of mystery in it. I would also recommend this book to adults that like these types of novels. When I first saw this book, I thought ¿wow that is a big book¿ because it does have 64 chapters and 368 pages, but since I liked it so much, I read it a lot faster and finished it long before I was scheduled to have it done. My advice to anyone who might be afraid to start reading this book is ¿go for it¿ because it ended up being a wonderful book that I might reread in the future. This book is great for high school students, especially students that have to do a history book report because it relates to history in a variety of ways, but also has elements of fiction to keep people interested. Dalessandro shows that he did research in order to make it a great book with historic moments in it. This novel has a little bit of everything, including early police procedure, action sequences, drama, shoot outs, natural disasters and a love story. Overall, this was a great book and I look forward to rereading it in the future.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Until yesterday, I had never written one of these reviews, though I have been buying books on line for years. But I saw a review that professed to be the only true objective critique, and that anyone who praised this extraordinary work was either the author or a pal or his publisher. I am not the author, I have never met the author and I absolutely flipped over this book. I was told the characters were all trite and minor: I found them brilliant and riveting. Listen to this description from 1906: 'Byron Fallon took the Colt revolver from beneath the pillow and padded across the floor on feet aking to bony flapjacks. His hips tilted left, his shoulders twisted right, and his right hand, the one that clutched the Colt, dangled lower than the other. Tatooed by scars and divots, he moved like a broken puppet repaired by a drunken craftsman.' This 'minor' character, introduced in Chapter 3, is the Chief of Homicide who appears to be the only cop on the SFPD trying to stamp out the Shanghaiing and slave trading in innocent Chinese girls, and his fate drives the entire story. Or how about this section, when his two sons, one an engineering genius trying to bring science to the police department, the other a stressed-out brawler crazy enough to shoot it out with Shanghaiiers, enter the infamous Barbary Coast. 'The first thing that hit Hunter was the noise of blaring trujmpets, flatulent tubas, tinkling pianos and screeching non-sopranos. His gait slowed when the smell hit: a nose curdling meld of stale boze, dried sweat, perfumed sex, cheap tobacco and manure, all garnished with the pungent lilt of burning opium.' If that's bad writing, I am indeed a moron. My wife stayed up until 2:00 in the morning last night, not wanting to quit reading 1906. She had tucked little post-its onto the pages she loved the most: these excerpts were her choices. I don't always like the books other people like: it was a chore for me to get through the DaVinci Code, but it did have a lot of interesting plot elements. But 1906 is so powerful, I'm still thinking about it two weeks later. The corruption, the descriptions of the city, the massive devastation and human incompetence, the amazing array of characters are just unforgettable. The writing is lean and tight and descriptive, with hardly a wasted word, almost like a big poem to San Francisco. A wonderful book about the biggest disaster in U.S. History, the earthquake and fire of 1906, that almost everyone would love. I gave it 5 stars not because anyone bribed me, but because 6 stars was not available or I would have given it that. That's my objective opionion: this book is the best I have read in years.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My friend's mother brought this book to our apartment and could not stop talking about it. I grabbed it before my friend could get it, and I could not put it down. I thought it was going to be about just the San Francisco Earthquake, but it was much more than that, much more than a disaster novel. The biggest character of all may be the city of San Francisco itself. The book is teeming with the best collection of characters imagineable: an opera critic named Annalisa Passarelli who is the secret informant to a group of corruption fighters trying to bring down the city's corrupt politicians, a brilliant young Stanford graduate trying to use scientific techniques (Hunter Fallon) to solve the death of his father who was the leader of the corruption crusaders, and Chinese slave girls and a runaway Kansas farm girl (Kaitlin Staley, my favorite), plus the Italian singer Enrico Caruso, and one of the best bad guys I have ever read, Shanghai Kelly. The scope of the book, the wonderful images and language just captivated me. I knew nothing of this book when I started it, other than what I had been told by my friend's mother, and it was a great discovery and a book I have told many of my friends about. I don't see how anyone could not love this book. It is very fast paced and very well written and the action sequences, particularly the earthquake and the fire that burned the city to the ground, are just thrilling.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Though people speak of the coming of the BIG ONE, 1906 was nothing to sneeze at. Talented author, James Dalessandro, has given us a part of history we can only imagine and with that he puts our imaginations at a challenge to envision the events. History is relayed vividly and with much emotion for the reader to be right in the days of yesteryear. This is a novel NO ONE should miss.
ursula on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Starts three days prior to the quake and makes the case that much of the damage was preventable even at that point, particularly the devastating fires that swept the city. The picture painted in the book is of a city almost impossibly beautiful, alluring, charismatic -- with city government almost impossibly corrupt, callous and focused on lining their own pockets. The story is told partially in the first person through the eyes of Anna Passarelli, an opera critic for the newspaper (this of course gives the author a great excuse to work the famous visit of Enrico Caruso into the novel). Overall, the book was pretty good, but I got a little tired of the author's staccato writing style toward the end.
sapsygo on LibraryThing 3 months ago
This book would have benefited from a map - even though I grew up in the Bay Area, it was still hard to picture all the running around the characters did... and then when they started describing the destruction and the path of the fires, it was even more difficult. I found this book to be an enjoyable read, but the writing wasn't much more than decent that the characters and style was a little too melodramatic and overwrought at times. I also didn't like how the author bounced back and forth between third person and first person in the same chapter - sometimes it worked, and sometimes it was really rather confusing and jarring. Still, the subject matter was certainly interesting and it was quite a different take on the '06 earthquake than what learned growing up.
TheLiteraryPhoenix More than 1 year ago
When I borrowed this book from Overdrive I thought it was going to be entirely about the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 1906. I was a bit surprised when the story opened with an arts correspondent and a fledgling cop. For a moment, I thought I had borrowed the wrong book. But I was hooked fast. Dalessandro opens by introducing us to a web of characters convening in San Francisco. With so many different personalities involved, it would have been easy to get lost. Dalessandro wove the multiple perspectives perfectly. We learn about the deep lines of corruption in government early in the book, and these villains follow into the disaster. It was so good. Each character is well developed and interesting. I particularly liked the bright-eyed Kaitlin and fearless Annalisa. These two girls never needed rescuing, and bless her - Annalisa ran all across the city helping with the rescue operations in a ballgown and jewels. The variety of characters made the story rich and gave life to San Francisco at the turn of the century. I loved them all - from the little Chinese girl sold as a slave to the bellowing opera singer. Each person has been careful researched, carefully selected, and add a unique perspective to the city. Instead of falling into the chaos of the disaster, Dalessandro follows Hunter and Annalisa as they track the villains, determined to both save their city and make sure justice is served. I don't want to give away too much of the story, but I will say this: the plot surged forward even at opportunities to fall into chaos. I was just as anxious to see the fire put out as to see the murderer caught. The fire is where Dalessandro shines. Scenes of the rescue efforts are sharp and engulfing. He finds the perfect balance between detail and pacing. There is a particular scene near the end of the story where Hunter and Annalisa are trapped in a burning building - the writing is so vivid you can practically feel the heat. He has carefully constructed everything from the opera house to the waterfront... Delssandro is a world-building master. This books was not what I expected, but I deeply enjoyed it. The only real complaint I can offer is that the audio recording I listened to was fairly poor quality - there was an echo to the speech that was distracting and annoying. Otherwise, this was a compelling story. There is child trafficking, attempted rape, and considerable violence - none of it is detailed, but it is there to illustrate the corruption of the city at the turn of the century.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Starts slow but a great book.
Griperang72a More than 1 year ago
I have not heard much about the the story of the San Francisco earthquake but I enjoy history so I thought I would give this book a chance. I am happy to say that I enjoyed this book. You can tell that the author did his research when writing this book. The story kept me engrossed with the twists in the story line. There was not only history involved but adventure as well. The author did a good job in making the reader really understand what the people were going through during this time. I can't not imagine it. Another thing that I liked was how the story was told through the eyes of a female reporter. A very engaging story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This novel was one of the best books I have ever read. The author develops the charters as you are reading, not giving you their background in endless paragraph. The book is 900 pages long, but it reads very fast.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved the book - written like a documentary and followed the history of the earthquake with accuracy good read
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Put me down squarely in the column of devoted readers who absolutely loved every word and every moment of this book. Historical fiction is my favorite, and I'd have to go back to Caleb Carr's The Alienist to find a book that kept me as enthralled as this one. Fast paced, poetic, with possibly the best cast of characters I've ever seen. My highest recommendation, from a woman who loves to read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The first 4 reviewers here either must be the author himself, or some of his cronies. I find it impossible that all four of these people agree this a 5-star book. Also notice the reviews that sound strangely like advertisements...a dead giveaway!! Now let me give you an impartial review. This is a story with great potential that suffers from poor writing and and over-ambitious plot. First of all, it could have used better editing. Allesandro seems to find a word he likes and keeps repeating it frequently (ie. the word 'flirtatious' three times in less than two pages). The author is a man who choses to write the book as if he were the first person woman...which does not really succeed. Even though our heroine narrator is female, some of her personality and actions are decidedly unfemale: lacking in the emotion a woman would really feel. Then there is the plot. In the first 1/4 of the book we are introduced to what seems like 60 different characters. Each chapter brings a whole new story line with way too many character descriptions...especially when the character ends up playing a minor (if any) role in the story. I found myself turning back several pages to remind myself who each character was, who they were related to, etc. which made for very frustrating reading. There are certainly some good action moments throughout the book, but I ended up feeling more annoyed than entertained by the time I finished the book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
James Dalessandro's unique style of storytelling brings the reader right into the days of 1906. The facts are amazing as well as the fictional characters especially strong, brave and determined Annalisa. She is truly a woman not appreciated enough in her time. What a GREAT character! NO ONE could have brought out the drama and excitement as well as James did in this novel. A MUST read for all ages.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I can see why there was a bidding war for the film rights of 1906. It's the CHARACTERS. They are so alive. As corny as it sounds, they do jump right off the page.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dalessandro is a Master Storyteller who brings truth to the table. The novel 1906 is a journey about humanity and the lack of it that shaped the soul of San Francisco. Walking side by side with each of the characters you can almost hear them breathe, almost see them as you turn a corner. The year was 1906 when the greatest earthquake brought 'The City' to her knees. Through the power of story, Dalessandro has given us a chance to walk in history and embrace the human spirit. If you are only going to read one book this year, make it 1906!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I did not want this book to end.  Beginning three days before the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, this books takes you on a gripping journey through the political & moral corruption plaguing the City in the years leading up to the earthquake and fires that destroyed San Francisco, through the incredible tragedy that occurred on April 18, 1906.  The characters are numerous but the author manages to weave their stories together so that you never loose track of the individual story lines and they seamlessly come together to lead you amazing journey.  The characters are intelligent, intriguing, despicable, lovely, evil and inspiring and I couldn't get enough of each and everyone of them.  The chapters dedicated to the earthquake and its aftermath are gripping in their intensity and detail.  A true page turner and one I highly recommend.    
being-fair More than 1 year ago
One of the best historical books I've ever read even though it was fiction. I learned much about the earthquake of 1906 and the effect it had on many other cities besides San Francisco. I love the all the characters real and made-up. The story was very entertaining. For those that didn't like some of the characters and stunts, you must remember that the author did not ever claim the story was all facts. Those things made the story more interesting and not so boring with nothing but facts. I learned more about the 1906 earthquake from this book than I learned in school. Absolutely loved this book!
crewset More than 1 year ago
When James Dalessandro set out to chronicle the tumultuous events surrounding the Great Fire of San Francisco, he certainly could not have been aware of the profound depth his literary work would reveal in the human character. The intense, riveting action and driving plot wrapped in these historically verifiable events produces a compelling story and a classic tale for all time.