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Imperial San Francisco: Urban Power, Earthly…
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Imperial San Francisco: Urban Power, Earthly Ruin

by Gray Brechin

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Interesting, but not really about San Francisco: If you're looking for a book on the history of San Francisco, this is not it. For the first 65 pages or so (out of 330 before footnotes), San Francisco is barely mentioned. Instead, the author talks about Rome, Washington DC, the Mexican-American war, the Spanish-American war, UC Berkeley, the mining-industrial complex, the military-industrial complex, and other related-but-not-directly-related items. There's a good chapter on San Francisco newspaper history and politics, and the UC Berkeley history is interesting but not directly relevant. The book's origin as a PhD thesis kind of shows. Unlike the book jacket, I did not find it to be "potboiler urban history" or "written in a lively, accessible style." It advances a new way of looking at urban development history - the history of a city's growth as it (negatively) impacts the surrounding environment. It's interesting for that, but not if you want a book focused on San Francisco history.
1 vote mugwump2 | Nov 29, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0520250087, Paperback)

First published in 1999, this celebrated history of San Francisco traces the exploitation of both local and distant regions by prominent families--the Hearsts, de Youngs, Spreckelses, and others--who gained power through mining, ranching, water and energy, transportation, real estate, weapons, and the mass media. The story uncovered by Gray Brechin is one of greed and ambition on an epic scale. Brechin arrives at a new way of understanding urban history as he traces the connections between environment, economy, and technology and discovers links that led, ultimately, to the creation of the atomic bomb and the nuclear arms race. In a new preface, Brechin considers the vulnerability of cities in the post-9/11 twenty-first century.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:30:25 -0400)

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