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Disaster! The Great San Francisco Earthquake…
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Disaster! The Great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 1906

by Dan Kurzman

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983189,138 (3.62)5
Investigates the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, describing the horrible natural disaster and the subsequent fire that raged through the rubble, killing ten thousand people.

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In April 1906 just as Fire Chief Sullivan is ready to make a presentation asking for more modern equipment, a 8.3 earthquake rocks the area destroying the water main system. The fires which are results of the gas main ruptures rage out of control for days because there is no water to douse them.

The army was deployed to battle looting but often after the Mayor gave orders that anyone caught raiding could be shot, often place anyone in danger whether they were looting or not.

Numerous notable personages were in San Francisco at the time of the earthquake/fires - Enrico Caruso, John Barrymore, Del Crespi (future major league pitcher). The author took personal stories

135 aftershocks ranging as high as 6.0, 490 city blocks and 28,000 buildings were destroyed. ( )
  cyderry | Dec 31, 2013 |
I continue my research on the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. I read Simon Winchester's book before this, and I can't help but compare the two. Winchester delves into the how and why of earthquakes in the greater context of the world, and how San Francisco and the San Andreas Fault play into that; Kurzman focuses on the events of April 1906 and the immediate aftermath. It's really the more solid book on the year 1906, and has another advantage: it's highly readable. Kurzman tells it like a true storyteller. He evokes intimate details about specific people and families and the reader follows along to see if they survive.

Winchester is about the science, and wanders off on various tangents along the way. Kurzman is about the people. Both useful books for my purposes, but if anyone wanted to know about the earthquake of 1906, Kurzman's would be the one I'd recommend by far. ( )
  ladycato | Feb 19, 2013 |
This well-researched book about the worst natural disaster to strike an American city puts the reader on the streets of San Francisco during its 1906 earthquake and fire. Author Dan Kurzman tells this historical tale with edge-of-the-seat tension, following the experiences of city residents before, during and after the diaster. He uncovers the political corruption in San Francisco at the turn of the century and offers reasons why the city's desctruction was so widespread. In addition, he reveals the indomitable spirit of the San Franciscans and their phoenix-like resolve to rise from the ashes. A highly readable book. ( )
  susanahern | Jul 5, 2010 |
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