• San Francisco Is Burning

  • The Untold Story of the 1906 Earthquake and Fires
  • By: Dennis Smith
  • Narrated by: Alan Sklar
  • Length: 12 hrs and 24 mins
  • 3.8 out of 5 stars (70 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2005 Dennis Smith (P)2005 Tantor Media, Inc.
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What listeners say about San Francisco Is Burning

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Lessons from history

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.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

History of the fire!

Incredible work! I absolutely recommend this if you want to examine San Francisco at the time of the great fire. Detailed and absorbing.

3 people found this helpful

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Needs to be made into a Hollwood movie!

This book is so good I wish James Cameron would turn it into a movie the way he did with Titanic. I could see mayor Eugene Schmitz and general Frederick Funston along with fire chief Dennis T Sullivan characters brought to life. The details in the book could be used to recreate the horror and destruction in state of the art CGI.