THE DAMNEDEST FINEST RUINS by Monica Sutherland

THE DAMNEDEST FINEST RUINS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Written by a young Englishwoman, this short and unpretentious book about San Francisco and its 1906 earthquake and fire is partly a lyrical account of her own love-affair with the city, partly a sketchy and not too accurate history of San Francisco itself, and partly the story of the earthquake, which no man could foretell or prevent, and the fire, resulting from human indifference to danger, which followed the quake. Built close to two earthquake faults, the San Andreas and the Hayward, even in the early 1900's San Francisco was known to be earthquake-prone, which its inhabitants preferred to forget. When in the early morning of April 18, 1906, a terrific quake along the San Andreas fault crumbled buildings and cracked streets in less than 60 seconds, the water supply failed at once, as did all electricity and all fire-alarms, and the city was helpless against the fires that immediately broke out in the ruins; five days later, when rain ended the conflagration, four square miles of the city were devastated and from 500 to 1000 persons were dead; rebuilding started at once, and when another quake shook the city in 1957 little damage resulted. Drawing to some extent on tales of survivors, this book, although diffuse and lacking in suspense, should appeal to less exacting addicts of disaster; San Franciscans and Northern Californians will delight in it and the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce should vote its author a life-membership.

Pub Date: Aug. 27th, 1959
Publisher: Coward-McCann