The Longest Minute: The Great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire
of 1906 by Matthew J. Davenport
10/17/23; 448 pages
St. Martin's Press
The Longest Minute: The Great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 1906 by Matthew J. Davenport is a very highly recommended, well researched and authoritative account of the historic 7.9 magnitude earthquake that struck San Francisco at 5:12 on April 18, 1906 and the days of fires which followed. The Longest Minute reads like a novel at times. The fear is intense as the huge earthquake hits early in the morning and devastates the city. Then the fires begin and the terror starts.
This is a well written and researched account of the natural disaster, but more importantly this is about the extensive fires that devastated the city. The Longest Minute is also the story of some of the people who lived through the disaster and some who were lost. The corruption and discrimination present during this time period is contrasted with the selfless individuals, workers, emergency responders, military personal, and the fire department who risked their lives and worked tirelessly to save who and what they could.
Davenport makes this narrative of the historical events intimately
as he draws from a plethora of sources, including letters,
manuscripts, newspapers, periodicals, memoirs, diaries, official
reports, court transcripts, and archival records to tell the accounts of
individuals. He presents the history of the area and creates a
complete written picture of the totality of the disaster. This is an
excellent choice for anyone interested in learning about the San
Francisco earthquake and subsequent fires.