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.
Like the author, I am also a transplant citizen to the city of San Francisco. Being an 80's baby, I missed the Cultural Revolution of the Sixties, and the turmol of the 70's, and I hardly have a recollection of the 49ers dynasty of the 80's.
I have lived in San Francisco for the past 14 years and love every aspect of it, and naturally I wanted to learn more about it. That's when I came across this book.
I would listen to this book on my bus commute to work, and I must say that I had several astonishing and surreal moments when the story being told would correspond with a location I would be happing to pass by on the bus. Riding the 47 Van Ness, passing City Hall, while listening to the tragedy befalling Mayor Moscone and Harvey Milk, or riding the 38 Geary and passing by the Fillmore.
I was very sad when I finished this book, and I kind of wish I could listen to these small stories for ever.
I am a citizen that lives by those "San Francisco Values." This book gave me insight to my role in our city's history.
After reading Mr. Tabbot's work, I better understand why our city is so different. It is the unique group of people portrayed within the book that built our city's foundations. We the citizens of San Francisco continue take their strong and many times frightening experiences to shape our present lives. By knowing who we are then remembering their legacy, ulitmately we will create a better world.
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