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3.71  ·  Rating Details  ·  921 Ratings  ·  163 Reviews
Now available in paperback, James Dalessandro's "riveting account of corruption, greed, and murder in the City by the Bay" (Dallas Morning News) was a best-seller in hardcoverand production has begun on a major motion picture. Set during the great San Francisco earthquake and fire, this page-turning historical novel reveals recently uncovered facts that forever change our ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published March 3rd 2005 by Chronicle Books (first published March 2004)
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8.4 by Peter HernonThe Rift by Walter Jon WilliamsRichter 10 by Arthur C. ClarkeSlow Apocalypse by John VarleyQuake by Lou Cadle
Best earthquake fiction
22nd out of 27 books — 13 voters
The Joy Luck Club by Amy TanTales of the City by Armistead MaupinThe Maltese Falcon by Dashiell HammettA Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave EggersPac Heights by Tony Perez-Giese
San Francisco Bay Area Fiction
182nd out of 214 books — 229 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,352)
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Michael Schmicker
If high school text books read like James Dalessandro's "1906," nobody would sleep through history class.

The apocalyptic earthquake that levelled San Francisco on April 18, 1906 started at 5:12 A.M. Fifty–three seconds later, the “Paris of the Pacific” was a pile of rubble. A hellish three-day firestorm followed, cremating the ruins. Final toll: 5,000 dead, 29,000 buildings collapsed or burned to the ground; 80 percent of the city erased from the map.

San Francisco on the eve of its destruction w
Robin Levin
Nov 09, 2013 Robin Levin rated it it was amazing
I found 1906 enthralling from beginning to end. San Francisco, at the time of the historic earthquake was in the grip of one of the most corrupt political machines we have ever seen in this country. James Dalessandro’s novel is as much about the efforts of brave citizens to end this corruption as it is about the earthquake.
If you were foolish enough to go to the Barbary Coast district of San Francisco at a time when ships needed sailors, you could easily be drugged by the bartender and find you
Jenna Kathleen
Feb 05, 2016 Jenna Kathleen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: giveaways
I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. You can tell James Dalessandro has put a lot of research and thought into the details and relationships of the novel. There are a lot of characters, but the way they interact with one another shows the incredibly diverse society of San Francisco at the turn of the century. There are so many interesting aspects to this novel related to the historical context: the police methods, the criminal world, the popular culture. All of this is back dropped against a ...more
Aug 24, 2011 Karyl rated it liked it
We all know that in 1906, San Francisco was destroyed by an earthquake and subsequent fire. But what was new to me was the extreme corruption found in the city prior to the disasters, and which caused so much more destruction. Most of the book is taken up with the story of a few good men, trying desperately to take down the corrupt leadership of the city, but getting thwarted by every turn, usually by violence. The earthquake and fires don't even happen until the last third or so of the book. Fo ...more
This novel has a little bit of everything – early police procedural, action sequences, drama, shoot outs, natural disasters, love story – in essence, the whole nine yards. There is a little something for everyone here. The first half of the novel is significantly character driven. We come to know and love the men of the Brotherhood – some of San Francisco’s finest cops who are working to help take down the graft and corruption visible everywhere you turn. There is a core group of individuals who ...more
Beth Cato
I read this as part of my continued research on the Great San Francisco Earthquake. I've read a great deal of nonfiction, but I wanted a level of detail that can only be found in fiction. I found this book, published in 2005 not long before the centennial of the quake.

1906 struck me as extremely irritating and enlightening all at once.

To begin with the irritants: the perspectives of the story. It's a first person novel that uses omniscient third person to tell the tales of a broad cast of about
Jan 08, 2016 Jserdyns rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received this book as a Goodreads Giveaway and was very excited to start reading because I am a huge fan of historical fictions. Mr. Dalessandro did a great job of weaving the fictional story into the true events of the 1906 San Francisco disaster and corruption. The story starts off quickly and does not slow down with rich attention to details. As I was reading, it peaked my interest into the actual events, so I did some of my own research into the disaster and the people described in the sto ...more
Apr 08, 2010 Maureen rated it really liked it
While the power of the Earthquake was beyond belief, the destruction of the city was caused by fires that burned for days, poor building construction, the futile attempts to stop the fires by dynamiting areas to create a fire break and failure of the water supply to stop the fires.

When reading this book I could not help but compare the devastation of the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 to the devastation of New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina. While the forces of nature are powerful and uncontro
BJ Rose
Mar 25, 2009 BJ Rose rated it it was amazing
A friend put this in my hands and said, 'You've got to read this.' I expected it to be about the big earthquake and the devastation that followed. Since I already knew that the corruption and incompetence in city government increased the destruction begun by the quake, I thought it would focus on events following the quake. Boy, was I wrong! The focus was on events before the quake, culminating in the death and chaos and panic of this historic event. This book is fabulously written and very-well ...more
Vickie Booth
Mar 17, 2015 Vickie Booth rated it really liked it
This was a very fast paced book. Pay attention, are you might miss something! I really enjoyed this book. There were many characters to get to know. I have always wanted to learn more about the San Francisco earthquake. I found everything very interesting. The background story was amazing.
Apr 08, 2010 Wendy rated it really liked it
San Francisco is my very favorite place, so I really enjoyed reading this book about the earthquake and fire, and the city at that time. It was a little tough to get into the first few chapters, the author keep introducing new characters, it was confusing. But once I got into the story line I couldn't put it down. And in the end the author told you exactly who was a fictional character and who wasn't,(which saved me the time of looking them all up, which is what I was planning on doing). The bo ...more
Oct 31, 2015 Judy rated it liked it
This book started a little slowly for me. It deals with the story of the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. I've read so many books about SF and the earthquake that all the background information was something I've known. However, when the two main characters, Hunter, son of the SF Police Chief and Annalisa Passarelli, a newspaper reporter, become involved in exposing the graft and corruption in city government, there is suspense and excitement. Dalesandro works the fictious characters along with ...more
Lynn Pribus
Jun 28, 2016 Lynn Pribus rated it liked it
A different view of the great and devastating earthquake which I read for my bimonthly historical-novel review in MILITARY OFFICER magazine. (After about 50 reviews it's getting harder to find new historicals.....)

Starting 72 hours before the quake, 1906 deals with the overwhelming governmental graft of the time with fictitious characters standing in for the real crusaders of the time trying to catch the miscreants with the blessing of Pres. Teddy Roosevelt. Narrated by a female opera reviewer w
A Holland Reads
May 21, 2016 A Holland Reads rated it really liked it
I have not heard much about the the story of the San Francisco earthquake but I enjoy history so I thought I would give this book a chance. I am happy to say that I enjoyed this book. You can tell that the author did his research when writing this book. The story kept me engrossed with the twists in the story line. There was not only history involved but adventure as well. The author did a good job in making the reader really understand what the people were going through during this time. I can' ...more
Ann Goddard
Jul 23, 2014 Ann Goddard rated it really liked it
The author covers the political corruption being uncovered in San Francisco just before and during the great earthquake and fire of 1906. Using first person accounts, he's built a group of fictional characters within actual events. The main character is a woman opera critic for a San Francisco newspaper who's called on to help guide Enrico Caruso as he comes to perform in San Francisco on that fated date. The characters are both believable and enjoyable, and I learned much I hadn't known about t ...more
Jenn Raley
May 08, 2012 Jenn Raley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this fictionalized - though impressively accurate - account of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. The author did a great job detailing the destruction wrought by the quake and the three days of fires that ensued.

The fictional characters employed by the author do a great job of providing perspective to the story, giving the reader someone to root for (and against) throughout the overarching drama. The story would be relatively generic and uncompelling if it weren't for the backdr
Philip Bailey
Oct 07, 2015 Philip Bailey rated it it was amazing
A most interesting read mixing fact and adding some colorful characters, both scoundrels and heroes. As has been the case in many large cities in the relatively new country of America graft and corruption was a way of life to the benefit of the few and the detriment of the masses. The portrayal of some of these people adds color to the story of the devastation of the San Francisco earthquake of 18 April 1906, and the massive fire that followed. Following the personal lives of a few individuals, ...more
Sterling Bollinger
Apr 06, 2011 Sterling Bollinger rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011
This is beautifully written piece of historical fiction. This story puts human faces on one of the most horrific natural disasters to happen in the US. One of the most striking things about this book is the story that is created leading up to the earthquake, which doesn't occur until the last third of the novel. The story of murder, corruption, and society in early 20th century San Francisco is based on a collection of true events and characters creating a intricate atmosphere which allows the r ...more
Jul 28, 2010 Brandi rated it really liked it
This was recommended to me at a bookstore in San Francisco as I was interested in reading fiction about the earthquake. Not literary fiction, but interesting and definitely holds your interest. I would like to read more into San Francisco pre-earthquake because it sounds interesting. I would have preferred if the novel had an narrative told from the third person perspective, rather than the first person. It was the only thing that really irked me throughout the novel and I'm surprised an editor ...more
Joy D
Jan 19, 2016 Joy D rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
New Take on the 'Quake

This book is about the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. It tells the primary story from the perspective of a female opera critic and journalist and follows other stories of people who had the misfortune to end up in San Francisco right before the quake. The book was fast paced and held my interest. It was an attempt to correct some misconceptions about the event. While not 100 percent historically accurate (as acknowledged by the author), it adhered to the spirit of the era,
Megan Reichelt
Mar 22, 2016 Megan Reichelt rated it liked it
Shelves: historical, adult
This book was very interesting! I was in the mood for a nonfiction book, so when I realized it was fiction, I felt a bit disappointed. The author spends a lot of time investing in the pre-earthquake plot: a group of police and a female reporter trying to bring down a corrupt political system. However, it takes so long that you start to think, "None of this is going to matter because the city will be leveled. We will have bigger problems." It turns out the corruption and the earthquake are more i ...more
Apr 02, 2016 Debbie rated it really liked it
A fictional account in terms of characters of the great San Francisco fire. This is a story of what many people were doing at the time of the fires. The author weaves the characters into stories that bring unlikely people together as each is destined to be in the historical fire of 1906.

Although slow in parts, I still stuck with the story because the plot was moving along. It was just taking longer than I wanted to get there.

I love reading about United States history and I've has this particula
Jan 21, 2016 Jeff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I confess, before reading this novel, I didn't know much about the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire. A little subsequent research convinces me that
the author has written a very compelling story around the true events of this disaster. I don't know how faithful the author is to the historical characters'
personalities, but they are very well developed. Gigi Shane's portrayal of these characters is superb. Her performance is top-notch. I thoroughly enjoyed
this historical fiction audiobook.

Ed Walsh
Sep 29, 2015 Ed Walsh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great read

A story of the San Francisco fire that has you sweating as you read through. Adding to the depth of the story is a second story of a quest to defeat corruption at the start of the twentieth century in the Paris of the Pacific. The stories blend and entertain from beginning to end.
Sylvia D Parnell
What a terrific book!

This story is told from the perspective of a survivor of the great earthquake and burning of San Francisco in 1906. It is based on facts, rumors and writings that survived of citizens who were attempting to root out the rampant corruption of that wide-open city.
It kept my interest throughout with horrifying details of the actions of slave traders, shanghaing thugs along with heart pounding confrontations between them and the law officers who tried to clean up their city. The
Gerald Curtis
Mar 23, 2015 Gerald Curtis rated it really liked it
I enjoyed his telling of this story very much. He built a well-told crime and law enforcement story that could stand on its own, without the earthquake, but mixed in with this great event in history made it even more interesting.

I regret that this is the only book by this author that my library carries.
McArthur Library Staff Picks
Jan 19, 2016 McArthur Library Staff Picks rated it it was amazing
Shelves: staff-picks, fiction
Set is San Francisco during the Great Earthquake and fire, 1906 is a tale of romance, political corruption, and suspense with a great sense of Victorian San Francisco. Wonderful historical fiction.
Apr 09, 2008 California rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sf-books
A great novel about San Francisco at that! The story is about the corruption that was taken place right before the big 1906 earthquake! I love it! It was very visual and soon to be film!
Dave Sippel
Jan 25, 2014 Dave Sippel rated it it was ok
After (mostly) reading this book, I felt somewhat misled. I heard about this novel after watching a History Channel documentary on the 1906 earthquake. The documentary featured Mr. Dalessandro who spoke about what happened during the earthquake. I bought a copy from Amazon, hoping for a good adventure.

Little did I know but the majority of the book focused on the corruption of the city officials and the few good cops that wanted to take them down, with the aid of the female journalist protagonist
Melanie Nichols
Jun 20, 2007 Melanie Nichols rated it it was amazing
Shelves: local-writers
Well written historical, crime novel set in San Francisco. Details little know facts about the 1906 earthquake and subsequent fire-storm. Most enjoyable!
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James Dalessandro was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and started writing poems and short stories at age six. He attended Valley Forge High School, studied journalism at Ohio University, and screenwriting at UCLA Film School. After seeing a documentary on the Beat Poets, he packed his bags and hitchhiked to San Francisco, but upon his arrival, was told he was “10 years too late to be part of it.”

At age
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