Qty:1
  • List Price: $16.95
  • Save: $3.91 (23%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
In Stock.
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.
Gift-wrap available.
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Used: Very Good | Details
Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: Very Good - Standard used condition book with the text inside being clean and unmarked - Exterior of the book shows moderate signs of usage
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

The Barbary Coast: An Informal History of the San Francisco Underworld Paperback – October 9, 2002


See all 14 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Paperback
"Please retry"
$13.04
$5.44 $2.30
Mass Market Paperback
"Please retry"
Unknown Binding
"Please retry"
$3.20
Best%20Books%20of%202014

Frequently Bought Together

The Barbary Coast: An Informal History of the San Francisco Underworld + The French Quarter: An Informal History of the New Orleans Underworld
Price for both: $28.04

Buy the selected items together
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Best Books of the Year
Best Books of 2014
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for 2014's Best Books of the Year in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; 1ST edition (October 9, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560254084
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560254089
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,178 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A classic chronicle . . . a violent exposition from which the infant city emerged full-grown and raging wild." -- Police & Security News, December 2002

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
5 star
16
4 star
7
3 star
0
2 star
1
1 star
0
See all 24 customer reviews
Very interesting book.
Dogman
The one weakness of the book is its lack of formal footnoting.
William E. Wallace
San Francisco is an amazing city.
Scott Wejmar

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Haschka TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 21, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"And Hell, yawning to receive the putrid mass, is there also".
Such is the description of San Francisco's Barbary Coast cited from another publication by author Herbert Asbury.
THE BARBARY COAST, first published in 1933, is a history of that vicious and squalid section in the heart of the City by the Bay devoted to all forms of crime, vice, lewd conduct and wickedness for the period 1849 to 1917. Asbury's fascinating narrative includes the dance halls, music saloons, dives, brothels, and gambling dens that infested the area, as well as the criminal gangs, hoodlums and cutthroats that preyed on the men lured there. The book's scope also encompasses the rising population of Chinese residents that coalesced into Chinatown, as well as the yellow slavery, tong wars and virulent anti-Chinese sentiments that evolved concurrently. And, since San Francisco is one of the world's greatest natural ports, the author describes the perils to both arriving and departing sailors, who were drawn to the Barbary Coast as insects to Venus Flytraps.
The twin pillars of the Barbary Coast were robbery and prostitution. Despite the early successes of vigilantism in ridding the burgeoning metropolis of undesirables, the fact that both thrived for so long can be attributed to the toleration and blatant corruption of the city's law enforcement officials and governing politicos. Of the two, prostitution was the foundation of the area's iniquity since, as the author is careful to point out, the Barbary Coast didn't finally die until the California Legislature passed the Red-light Abatement Act of 1914. Therefore, it's no surprise that much of the volume is dedicated to the Oldest Profession: the cribs, cow-yards, parlor houses, pimps, madames, and debasing working conditions.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Scott Wejmar on February 14, 2003
Format: Paperback
San Francisco is an amazing city. Each time I visit I discover something new along its narrow alleys, panoramic vistas and historical landmarks. North Beach has always been my favorite SF neighborhood. It is amazing to me that such wickedness prevailed on these streets in the not so distant past. When I picked up the Barbary Coast, I was surprised that it was an older novel (first published in the 1930's). Don't let that persuade you from reading it. Asbury's frank and colorful descriptions of the old Barbary Coast will capture your imagination from the first page. Starting with the gold rush, Asbury describes the incredible influx of people onto the peninsula within a few short years and the lawlessness that followed. The stories of the prostitutes, gamblers, thieves, gangs, saloon keepers, brawlers, and corrupt politicians are all richly told in Asbury's colorful language that keeps the reader's attention all the way through. This book is a must for anyone interested in the history of the gold rush and San Francisco's past.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Charles E. Joubert on December 27, 2002
Format: Paperback
The miners came in Forty-nine,
The whores in fifty-one;
And when they got together
They produced the native son.
This irreverend verse in the early part of THE BARBARY COAST sets the tempo of what is to follow: Joaquin Murieta, the Vigilantes, the Tong Wars in Chinatown, Shanghaiing sailors, the red-light district. I read it forty years ago originally and still recommend it, as do I the same author's THE FRENCH QUARTER.
This book is an informal history: as such it is sparse with the references, but it's a great read.
San Franciscans should be proud of it.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Darren Mckeeman on December 28, 2002
Format: Paperback
I'd seen this book on the shelves at the library, but I had always passed over it because it was too non-linear for my research. Boy, was that a mistake. This is THE best book about San Francisco's Barbary Coast in existance. It came to my attention again because of 'Gangs of New York', and I went ahead and bought it this time. Read this book and find out how tame everyone from San Francisco is these days in comparison.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Tom K. on January 22, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Maybe this book is out of copyright or something... but this printing is a grossly lazy reproduction of the original printing. It's actually a copy of the pages - not even fit right to the book's size. They didn't bother to transcribe and properly typeset the text using a modern system, so you're basically paying for a very rough, poorly scaled photocopy of the old printing. No wonder it's not available on Kindle.
2 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By L. Williams on January 3, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A very engaging and entertaining history of San Francisco's underworld from the "Gold Excitement" up to around 1906. It was written in the 30s, so a lot of the terms used in the book are no longer in use today and you may have to look them up. Also it continually references certain streets and does not contain a map, so if you aren't familiar with San Francisco, you will need to find your own map to see where they are.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Walt Anthony on April 22, 2009
Format: Paperback
I first read this intense book about ten years ago when I was helping to research a San Francisco walking tour for a colleague. I've revisited the title several times doing further research, and just for the plain old pleasure of reliving the wild glory days of the old-west again.

Like his tell-all histories of New York, New Orleans, and Chicago he goes for the rough-and-tumble sensational aspects of the past, and has a good old time of trying to separate the fact and the fiction. The style is a bit on the journalistic dry side of the era it was written, but the eccentric characters and situations more than make up for his style with pure drama.

This was one of the books which proved influential in delving even deeper into the legend and lore of old San Francisco, which has resulted after six years of planning, in opening a Victorian Parlor performance venue right on Union Square where so much of the history took place. The San Francisco Magic Parlor has now opened with our very "Herbert Asbury" sytle show: Eccentrics of San Francisco's Barbary Coast ...a magical escapade!

If you love to go deep into the roots of a city, and love the high and low trivia to be found in one of the most fascinating places in the world, you'll really enjoy all his titles, but this one for sure.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews


What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?