From Publishers Weekly
Challenging San Francisco's popular image as a tolerant, carefree, gracious city, Brechin unearths 150 years of deeply unsettling history. San Francisco's founding aristocracy were Southerners drawn to California as a mecca newly opened up for enterpriseAparticularly for plantation culture. After the 1849 gold rush, San Francisco was built on what Brechin terms a "Pyramid of Mining"Aa pre-capitalist financial structure employed from Roman times through the Renaissance, uniting miners, financiers, the military and land speculators in a power elite whose only concern was limitless economic growth. While press lord William Randolph Hearst converted a mining fortune into a media conglomerate preaching the superiority of "the American race" and calling for the annexation of Mexico, other San Franciscan power brokers, according to Brechin, channeled mining profits into gas works, currency speculation, political and judicial bribery and the exploitation of forests. From Nevada to Northern California, they wrecked towns, deforested the pristine Lake Tahoe region, buried acres of farmland under mining debris and contaminated the soil, lakes and rivers. A historical geographer and coauthor of Farewell, Promised Land, Brechin concludes with a look at the University of California's pioneering nuclear research program laid the groundwork for the Manhattan Project. Enlivened with period engravings, photos, political cartoons, magazine art, posters and maps, this stirring, environmentally conscious history ranks with Kevin Starr's Americans and the California Dream, powerfully establishing the city on the bay as a true emblem of the atomic age. (Aug.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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"One of the very best books I have ever read about a place is Imperial San Francisco, by Gray Brechin.... With its tales of skullduggery, brilliant enterprise, racist arrogance, environmental ruin, and ruthless competition, it will be an astonishment to anyone who knows modern San Francisco only as the gentlest of American cities." - Jan Morris, Independent (UK) "Books of the Year," November 2000" Included in the Los Angeles Times Book Review's "Best Nonfiction of 2000", Named a "Book of the Year" in the Independent (UK) San Francisco Chronicle Best-Seller List, December 1999, Honorable Mention for the Pacific Coast Branch Award, American Historical Association.