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1906 Earthquake Centennial Alliance

Activities & Events

1906 -- A NOVEL

James Dalessandro, author, Chronicle Books

On April 17, 1906 -- the day before the great earthquake -- federal officials were about to arrest San Francisco's mayor Eugene Schmitz, political boss Abe Ruef, and their entire political machine in the most sweeping corruption probe in U.S. History, a plot hatched in President Theodore Roosevelt's White House office.

For years, San Francisco city officials had been ignoring the pleas of their visionary and crusading fire chief, Dennis Sullivan, that the city was in grave danger from earthquake and conflagration, but they were too busy lining their pockets to care.

Once the earthquake and fire struck, soldiers began dynamiting wood frame buildings in a disastrous attempt to create fire breaks, because of lack of water, spreading the fire for three days. A "Shoot To Kill" order was issued by the mayor: soldiers, many of them drinking and looting themselves, shot scores of people.

The novel 1906 interweaves fact and fiction to recreate a city of 450,000 people that was wiped from the earth, portraying the Shanghaiing, slave trading in Chinese girls, the massive corruption, and the appearance, five hours before the earthquake, of the great Enrico Caruso at the San Francisco opera house.

A short documentary clip "The Damndest, Finest Ruins" may be seen at www.1906Earthquake.com, and the book is available at local bookstores and www.amazon.com.

More information »


Black Oak Books, Berkeley, August 18, 2005 at 7 pm
Bouchercon Mystery Convention, Chicago, Sept. 2-3, 2005
San Francisco Learning Annex, Sept. 14, 2005 at 7 pm
Lafayette Public Libray, Sept. 15, 2005 at 7 pm
Commonwealth Club, Santa Clara, Sept. 22, 2005 at 6 pm
San Rafael Public Library, Sept. 23, 2005 at 6 pm
Skyline College, Oct. 4, 2005 at 1 pm
California Writer's Club, High Desert, Oct. 22, 2005
Palos Verdes Women's Club, November 9, 2005 at 10:30 am
Contra Costa Wind Symphony, April 18, 2006 at 8 pm
Alameda Historical Society, April 27, 2006 at 6 pm


April 18, 2006, at 8 pm
Contra Costa Wind Symphony
(Tickets on sale March 1, 2006)
Hoffman Theater
Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts
1601 Civic Drive
Walnut Creek, CA 94596

April 27, 2006 at 6 pm
Alameda Historical Society,
2324 Alameda Avenue
Alemeda, CA 94501


The novel's popularity was instrumental in getting the S.F. Board of Supervisors to set aside the official death count.


General public.

Volunteer Opportunities

Author has spoken and will speak at book clubs, colleges, professional associations, press clubs, library fund raisers, book stores and book clubs.


Andrea Burnett, Chronicle Books, (415) 537-9295

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