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Season of the Witch: Enchantment, Terror, and Deliverance in the City of Love Audible – Unabridged

4.4 out of 5 stars 316 customer reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
A fascinating book about San Francisco's wild history from the Sixties, through the tempestuous Seventies, into the early Eighties when the City comes together, after much trauma, to cope with the AIDS epidemic. It offers a major re-assessment of Mayor Dianne Feinstein's success in leading San Francisco out of the nightmare of the Jonestown massacre and the assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. And Talbot also credits the 49ers football team of Joe Montana and Bill Walsh with helping San Francisco recover from the culture wars and violence of the '70s. This is a deeply reported book, not just a nostalgia trip. Even if you lived through these decades in San Francisco, you will discover things you never knew. And it's written in a very lively, passionate style. Talbot clearly cares about his City.
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Format: Hardcover
I was born in San Francisco in 1959, and moved away in 1985. I witnessed much, if not all, of what is recorded in this fine book. I read anxiously page after page, until I found I could not finish the book. Why? Because it seemed to stir up something in me, something akin to post-traumatic stress syndrome. It was not easy growing up in the Bay Area, during this era.
I come from turn of the last century Italian immigrants; my mother and aunts worked downtown, in the 1940's, dressed as finely as possible on a working girl's salary: gloves, hat, matching handbag, freshly polished shoes. We had a neighbor who worked at I Magnin, and dressed SO elegantly for her job as sales clerk. Yet, the Beats and Hippies were a fascinating sight, despite their grubbiness; a sharp contrast to the fading elegance of SF. And all the rootless people, who come to California, and San Francisco specifically, simply because they fit in nowhere else. I LOVE San Francisco, and proudly boast that I am a native daughter. However, when it came time to raise a family, the increasing cost of living forced us to move farther north, and while initially homesick, I came to appreciate what living in a "normal" place feels like. A sense of relief swept over me when I realized my children would not ride the roller coaster of emotions one had when living or working or growing up in San Francisco, during the era described in this book: Awe, wonder, beauty, terror, fear, confusion, disgust, respect, anger, love, appreciation, neglect.
We helped change the country, or at least sheltered those that had no place else to go. Changes that needed happen to society, but at a very high price, for many. I will finish this book sometime. Mr. Talbot obviously did his homework, and it is sure to become a classic work on my (former) Fair City by the Bay.
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Format: Hardcover
The book is a ride through the most troubling period in SF history. It is fascinating, disturbing, and enlightining . The characters that shaped the city are heros and villans. The plots of the Dirty Harry/Streets of San Francisco movies from the 70's are very real to what was happening. The culture that started with mellow hippies created drug crazed demons. The chilling zebra killings (local blacks murdering whites for sport). The civil war that removed the "old in's and installed the "new out's" was a megolithic cultural change that altered the soul of the city forever (for better or worse). Unbelievable violence and pollitical corruption raged from the left (New World Liberation, SLA, Peoples Temple). Jonestown, Dan White's assasinations of Moscone and Milk within a week of eachother were almost to sureal for the citizens to believe. You will be holding your breath throughout most of the book, but will exhale when a divided city comes together for the first 49ner superbowl victory(amazing what sports can do). I was there for it all and can tell you the author got it right.
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Format: Hardcover
The book is well written, informative, and entertaining. But it is a strange exercise to read, written by someone with a great deal of information and skill but oddly lacking in a native grounding here. The result is a story told with great facility, but flawed in its biased and incomplete perspective and rather frequent lapses in accuracy.

As a native San Francisco Irish-American Catholic of several generations who came of age here in the era he describes, I find that the book takes a lot of liberties and leaves some unfortunate residues. He feels pretty free to slam Irish Catholic San Francisco, a community great in number with roots in the community that precede the Gold Rush. He even uses an ethnic slur: "Mick" in one passage - certainly you would not feel emboldened to present this kind of bias against any other religious or ethnic group in a mainstream non-fiction book release. (It seems that open ethnic and religious bias is quite OK in progressive circles if you are on the 'right' side of the struggle.)

This odd anti-Catholic, sort of love-hate vis the Irish, bias pervades the book. I think that the author found that he could easily portray old school working class San Francisco in a manner of stereotyping by simply calling the old establishment 'the Irish Catholics' (who certainly had power but never 'owned' the City) without having to do a whole lot of challenging research. He can't bring himself to say something nice about beautiful Sts. Peter & Paul's in North Beach without pairing it with a nasty criticism. This beloved church is one among dozens in the City that nurtured and educated hundreds of happy, well-adjusted people for whom the parish was the vital center of the community.
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