I’ve been mulling this one over for a while. I’m too lazy to browse back through more than a few years of previous postings on the WNP Stories Board to see what others may have suggested about this topic. I also kick myself for not lofting this sooner so that Rosie could have chimed in. Here goes and have fun adding your thoughts and recommendations.
What books come to mind that you’ve read or heard about that you’d recommend to a native, a transplant, or anyone interested in learning about the brief but colorful history of the San Francisco Bay Region? By its very nature some titles will include a broader reach of the history of The West and global transformation. I figure that a store of titles will emerge from which to immerse ourselves for those short daylight times of winter. If you’re gonna be caught in the act of napping on the couch what better cover to have than a few cool titles laying across your belly to impress your spouse, partner, housemate, or the family dog awaiting its walk?
Naturally the Images of America series from Arcadia Press of which a healthy number of good titles have been published about the neighborhoods of San Francisco and other locals belong on our booklist. Please refer to the WNP Store for easy purchase of some of these dandy books:
These are a few of my favorites from a lifetime of reading to get the ball rolling. Most are nonfiction but add novels too. I haven’t even touched the rich tapestries of multicultural histories or that of music, poetry, and art. Some titles may not stand up to historical scrutiny yet they provided me with understanding and appreciation of a deep ‘sense of place’ that shapes my being:
The Ohlone Way, Indian Life of the San Francisco and Monterey Bay - Malcolm Margolin Ishi in Two Worlds; A Biography of the Last Wild Indian in North America - Theodora Kroeber Two Years Before the Mast - Richard Henry Dana Men to Match My Mountains - Irving Stone Let the Sea Make a Noise...: A History of the North Pacific from Magellan to MacArthur - Walter A. McDougall
Ordeal By Hunger, The Story of the Donner Party; Storm, Fire, The Earth Abides - all by George R. Stewart
San Francisco Bay, The Natural World of San Francisco, Weather of the San Francisco Bay Region - Harold Gilliam (His weekly columns about local natural history were wonderful, appearing in the Sunday Chronicle in the ‘50s - ‘70s)
Imperial San Francisco, Urban Power, Earthly Ruin - Gray Brechin
San Francisco Bay, A Pictorial Maritime History - John Haskell Kemble
The Other California, The Great Central Valley in Life and Letters - Gerald Haslam ( a terrific writer of short stories and essays about the Central Valley and California)
Any/All of the remarkable, Americans and the California Dream titles written by Kevin Starr Americans and the California Dream, 1850-1915 Material Dreams: Southern California through the 1920s Endangered Dreams: The Great Depression in California The Dream Endures: California Enters the 1940s Embattled Dreams: California in War and Peace, 1940-1950 Coast of Dreams: California on the Edge, 1990-2003