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.
Incredible work! I absolutely recommend this if you want to examine San Francisco at the time of the great fire. Detailed and absorbing.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
The story of the 1906 SF Earthquake & Fire is a facinating tale of corruption and incompetance that is eerily reminiscint of the 2005 Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans.
I found my blood boiling when learing of the arrogance & stupidity of the US Army and its' selective treatment of people (rich & white vs. poor & Asian). I also loved the general history of San Fran's neighborhoods & city founders and whenever I return to the Bay Area I now often think of this disaster as I walk the town.
My only complaint is the length. An Abridgment would've been nice as this does tend to ramble on at times when describing the various fire fighting methods over & over again.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful