An author that I have not seen mentioned in this thread is Oscar Lewis. He wrote, among others, "Bay Window Bohemia:The brillant artisitic world of gaslit san Francisco"; "High Sierra Country"; "Sutter's Fort"; "This was San Francisco"; and "I Remember Christine". This last book, a fictional account of San Francisco in the 1890s-1900s, has what I think is the best first chapter of any book I have ever read. In the first chapter, the author takes apart (destroys?) the California Historical Establishment of the 1930s-1940s. The chapter is just marvelous and the rest of the book is not so bad either.