My sweetie handed this to me and said, “Read this!” So I did. I’m compliant like that.
Actually, I couldn’t wait to read it. It’s a history of San Francisco from when it was sighing its last as a conservative Irish-Italian small city (1950s), all the way through the AIDS epidemic and the first anti-viral cocktails for HIV (late ’80s). Written by David Talbot, founder of Salon.com, it was fast-moving, relatively light reading, but endlessly fascinating.
I learned a ton from reading this, including why the big game of the 49ers vs. the Cowboys in 1982 was such a big deal, and why Bill Walsh was a miracle-worker (for the record, I know close to nothing about sports, and this book made football seem interesting). The tragedies of the Moscone/Milk shooting made me cry, as did the Jim Jones massacre. The freewheeling 60s and the “culture of free” was incredibly informative, as I walk down Haight Street these days and wonder what the big deal was (it was a Big Deal!). And it brought home the devastation of AIDS and the shocking and inhumane way the federal government refused to deal with it or even acknowledge it, while it obliterated a significant portion of the gay community.
Completely and utterly fascinating.
I had a few itty bitty bones to pick about the writing — sometimes it was a little too lighthearted, and sometimes summed up situations with pithy conclusions, which was a little irritating. But overall, considering the range of years and the incredible amount of change and landmark events that happened in the city during that time, it was fast, interesting reading and I really enjoyed it.
If you love San Francisco at all, this book will fascinate you. There is nothing boring about it, and it’s incredibly informative about some really important recent American history.