978-0-312-86527-6 / 9780312865276






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About the book:

On April 18, 1906, the great Golden Gate metropolis of San Francisco was struck by a devastating earthquake that, combined with resulting fires, leveled one of the most cultured, exciting--and, some say, wicked--cities in the United States.

In Aftershocks, Richard S. Wheeler plunges the reader into the midst of the earthquake in which thousands died, and tens of thousands were left homeless and destitute. Acts of heroism, self-sacrifice, depravity, and horror took place in equal numbers against a backdrop of such monumental destruction that many thought it Armageddon.

Wheeler's story of the great calamity is built around its victims, the people of San Francisco: an architect more concerned with what the destruction spells for his career that what it means to his family; a photographer who captures the history of the moment in the faces of the stricken rather than in the rubble of the buildings; a city engineer whose involvement in the corruption of the city's municipal government takes an awful toll; a missionary who has enough faith in God's love to aid the refugees but who cannot find a place for the love of a fellow human being; a soldier obsessed with getting rich from the helpless, despairing people he is supposed to help.

In Aftershocks, Wheeler introduces such historic earthquake-era figures as Enrico Caruso, John Barrymore, Jack London, and General Frederick Funston as he reconstructs San Francisco in its glittering heyday: its great hotels, its temples of finance, its literary and artistic centers--as well as its notorious Barbara Coast and Chinatown, its rat-infested sewers and graft-infested city hall. In his recent novel Second Lives, Richard S. Wheeler memorably re-created Gilded Age Denver; in Aftershocks, that Bohemia-by-the-Bay, San Francisco, comes to vivid life in its most despairing time.

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