Audie Award Nominee, History, 2013
Season of the Witch is the first book to fully capture the dark magic of San Francisco in this breathtaking period, when the city radically changed itself - and then revolutionized the world. The cool gray city of love was the epicenter of the 1960s cultural revolution. But by the early 1970s, San Francisco’s ecstatic experiment came crashing down from its starry heights. The city was rocked by savage murder sprees, mysterious terror campaigns, political assassinations, street riots, and finally a terrifying sexual epidemic. No other city endured so many calamities in such a short time span.
David Talbot takes us deep into the riveting story of his city’s ascent, decline, and heroic recovery. He draws intimate portraits of San Francisco’s legendary demons and saviors: Charles Manson, Patty Hearst and the Symbionese Liberation Army, Jerry Garcia, Janis Joplin, Bill Graham, Herb Caen, the Cockettes, Harvey Milk, Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple, Joe Montana and the Super Bowl 49ers. He reveals how the city emerged from the trials of this period with a new brand of “San Francisco values”, including gay marriage, medical marijuana, immigration sanctuary, universal health care, recycling, renewable energy, consumer safety, and a living wage mandate. Considered radical when they were first introduced, these ideas have become the bedrock of decent society in many parts of the country, and exemplify the ways that the city now inspires us toward a live-and-let-live tolerance, a shared sense of humanity, and an openness to change.
As a new generation of activists and dreamers seeks its own path to a more enlightened future, Season of the Witch - with its epic tale of the wild and bloody birth of San Francisco values - offers both inspiration and cautionary wisdom.
©2012 David Talbot (P)2012 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.
to read before this one is Robert Graysmith's Black Fire, which details San Francisco's history up to around the point Season Of The Witch takes over, giving one a complete and comprehensive view of the city and its fiery, tumultuous, literary, and always idiosyncratic history. Talbot's book is an ambitious work, and another critic might complain that it runs in a lot of different directions. But I liked the structure (or occasional lack thereof), as it gives the feeling of San Francisco, a city going everywhere at once and never sure where anything is ever going to end up. My own experience of the city was in 1999 when I spent three of the most interesting days of my life interacting with the homeless and haunted, "making eye contact" in places where it was highly suggested that one not do so. San Francisco is a rich and rewarding experience from the top on down, and Talbot's compelling account of the city's history and development gives one the feel of the personality of one of the most fascinating places on earth.
I *ate* this up - which is not to say it was an easy book to get through. The Bay Area in the 1970s is fascinating, but spooky and disturbing - very violent. Talbot did a great job, very well written book. I loved the accounts of the Diggers and Good Earth Collective, and enjoyed the tales of Hibiscus and the Cockettes. He did a great job with the AIDS crisis.
I couldn't buy the whole 49ers thing. I would have preferred the end to discuss the remaining environmental and public health legacies of the era. His account of Diane Feinstein seemed a bit whitewashed - but the truth is, I don't know.
It was a disturbing, but compulsory read. The People's Temple - the City's complicity with same, is important material.
Maybe the best part was Talbot's handling of the police department.
Great, scary book.
I was not crazy about the narration- which is something I'm picky about. It didn't detract from the story - but it certainly did not add much.
This book is great if you like history or non-fiction types with good storylines. I don't have any special interest in San Francisco but this is a good story regardless.
Devil in the White City. Fairly recent history with an entertaining and varied storyline.
It is scary how many violent cults and organizations came out of SF, but how the city weathered them, and you don't even think of them as tied to the city today.
I couldn't stop listening to this riveting history of San Francisco from the 1960's on. Salon's David Talbot uses the wonderful narrative form of capturing the era with specific people, incidents and events which define the period (think Michael Lewis). Tremendously evocative of the times, I haven't read a better book about San Francisco. So interesting - many many historical details which I didn't know, even though I visited many times during this period and lived there in the '80's. The narrator was very good too and didn't detract in any way from the stories being told. Bravura achievement all round.
I liked the behind the scenes glimpses into what was going on in SF
Good Grief! Doesn't anyone check the pronunciations of people's names, like Marty Balin? That is just lame and embarrassing. There were others as well..
Audible should be more careful when there are so many errors with the pronunciations of people's names. Spoils the wonder of these marvelous books.
A must read especially if you live in San Francisco or have visited it.....I highly recommend it
If you are from, or live in the San Francisco area this is a must read!
As I am somebody who has spent most of his life in the Midwest, I still found this book to provide compelling stories and views of historical events of which I had not known.
If you're a fan of history or even someone who grew up during the 60's, this is well worth your time.
I grew up in San Francisco during the era covered by this book, so many of the topics were familiar to me. I was too young (and too naive) to understand the political and social ramifications of what I read in the Examiner and the Chronicle. This book gave me a much better understanding of the momentous events which shaped SF and then the rest of the county.
I found the portion covering the 49ers to be disproportionate - both because I do not agree they had that much affect on the city and because the history of the characters in that segment had nothing to do with what was happening in SF. Over an hour is spent on the 49er and then only about 30 minutes on the AIDS crisis? How can that be justified?
The bulk of the book, covering the music, drug and hippy scenes along with the Patty Hearst and People's Temple tragedies, were much better segments with clear lines to the political and social changes taking place.
I felt the narrator did a good job. No one pronounces every name perfectly and the slight slips were not distracting to me. A good narration does not take attention away from the material. A great narration makes the material better. This was a good narration.
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