The cruel and terrible days of America's merchant marine in the Nineteenth Century are brought vividly to life in this book of San Francisco waterfront life. The author, a San Francisco librarian and researcher, has delved deep to produce an accurate history of the time. He recreates the waterfront as it was from 1850 to the early 1900's, sparing no information about its brothels, bars, knife and gun fights, and its most in-famous characters the ""crimpers"" who drugged or tricked men into joining ship's companies. The famous Challenge trial of 1851 in which officers were found guilty of brutal mistreatment of men at sea is one of the crucial points of the narrative. From that time, he shows us, reforms in merchant marine life and the abolishment of Shanghaiing began. Men such as Andry Furuseth appeared as reformers to fight waterfront corruption. Slowly the Barbary Coast, as the San Francisco waterfront was known, diminished in evil until it was destroyed by the great earthquake and fire. An excellent piece of historical writing, retaining fresh and original style treatment.