San Francisco Is Burning: The Untold Story of the 1906 Earthquake and Fires

San Francisco Is Burning: The Untold Story of the 1906 Earthquake and Fires

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At 5:12 a.m. on the morning of April 18, 1906, San Francisco was struck by one of the worst earthquakes in history, instantly killing hundreds. The ensuing fires that ravaged the city for days were responsible for the deaths of as many as 3,000 more. In all, 522 blocks and 28,188 buildings were leveled, and some 200,000 people dislocated.

This watershed event in American history has never before been told with the richness of historical detail and insight that our foremost historian of fire, Dennis Smith, brings to it in San Francisco Is Burning. Smith cinematically recounts this terrible tragedy through the stories of the people who lived through those terrible days—from a valiant naval officer who helped save the city's piers and wharves to Eugene Schmitz, the crooked mayor, to the "debonair scoundrel" Abe Ruef, the most erudite city boss in American history. Throughout, Smith reveals many unknown details about the event, from the city's great vulnerability to fire—due to its corrupt and hasty building practices—to the widespread racism the quake unleashed and the atrocities committed by national guardsmen. Told with verve and a seasoned firefighter's knowledge, San Francisco Is Burning is the gripping and definitive account of one of the greatest disasters of the twentieth century.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400131792
Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc.
Publication date: 11/01/2005
Edition description: Library - Unabridged CD
Product dimensions: 6.70(w) x 6.40(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

D. Smith, Professor of Sociology, Loughborough University.

ALAN SKLAR has narrated over 75 audiobooks and earned numerous awards for his work. He has also provided the voice for thousands of corporate and medical videos, as well as many radio and TV commercials. He lives with his wife in New York.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"An American epic, a masterwork.... Simth teaches so much we need to know. Simultaneously his literary skills mesmerize us. Best of all he inspires." —-Thomas Fleming, author of The Illusion of Victory: America in World War I

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San Francisco Is Burning: The Untold Story of the 1906 Earthquake and Fires 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
debherter on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Looks at the San Francisco Earthquake by focusing on the political coverup designed to downplay the earthquake and blame the greater damage on the fire. Does an excellent job of covering the disaster as well.
bezoar44 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This appealing narrative history offers a blow by blow account of the collective efforts of the San Francisco Fire Department, city officials, and Army and Navy officers to battle the fires triggered by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. The book lacks citation to sources - there's a bibliography and a bald statement that "all information contained in this book may be relied upon as historically accurate", but that's all. Smith offers strong judgments of which historical figures deserve respect and which scorn. On the other hand, the short, staccato chapters keep the story moving, the particular figures whose stories Smith traces are well chosen, and he provides just the right amount of context of their lives before and after the fire. Beyond being a good read, the book should serve as a helpful case study for emergency managers and accident theorists. Two major take away lessons are the value of spontaneous, self-organized response by neighbors during an emergency; and the damage that a single, powerful emergency manager can unleash if he gets in over his head.
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