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Imperial San Francisco

Urban Power, Earthly Ruin, With a New Preface

Gray Brechin (Author)

Available worldwide

Paperback, 437 pages
ISBN: 9780520250086
October 2006
$29.95, £24.00
Other Formats Available:
First published in 1999, this celebrated history of San Francisco traces the exploitation of both local and distant regions by prominent families—the Hearsts, de Youngs, Spreckelses, and others—who gained power through mining, ranching, water and energy, transportation, real estate, weapons, and the mass media. The story uncovered by Gray Brechin is one of greed and ambition on an epic scale. Brechin arrives at a new way of understanding urban history as he traces the connections between environment, economy, and technology and discovers links that led, ultimately, to the creation of the atomic bomb and the nuclear arms race. In a new preface, Brechin considers the vulnerability of cities in the post-9/11 twenty-first century.
List of Illustrations
Preface to the 2006 Edition
Preface to the First Edition: The Urban Maelstrom
Introduction: New Romes for a New World

Part I: Foundations of Dominion
1. The Pyramid of Mining
2. Water Mains and Bloodlines

Part II: The Thought Shapers
3. The Scott Brothers: Arms and the Overland Mutiny
4. The De Youngs: Society Invents Itself
5. The Hearsts: Racial Supremacy and the Digestion of "All Mexico"

Part III: Remote Control
6. Toward Limitless Energy
7. The University, the Gate, and "the Gadget"

A Note on Sources
Select Bibliography
Gray Brechin has worked as a journalist and television producer and is coauthor of Farewell, Promised Land: Waking from the California Dream (UC Press). He received his Ph.D. from the U.C. Berkeley Department of Geography in 1998
"A classic of urban history, environmental history, California history, and socially oriented architectural criticism, this work contains scholarship that is thrilling in its comprehensiveness. Never before have the inner dynamics of the regional civilization centered in San Francisco been so comprehensively integrated."—Dr. Kevin Starr, State Librarian of California, author of Americans and the California Dream

"Imperial San Francisco is a great gift of a book, the product of extraordinary research, insight, and hard work that connects a lot of dots and gives me a reinvigorated focus and curiosity [about] what California culture was and what might become of it all."—Gary Snyder

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