San Francisco: Instant City, Promised Land

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San Francisco, Instant City, Promised Land by UC Berkeley Professor Michael Johns is a fascinating history book and guide about The City by the Bay. San Francisco was once the most important city on the West Coast, often referred to in Westerns, and it has a history to rival some East Coast counterparts. Johns was a bike messenger in San Francisco and still resides there. His description of the city’s history is both knowledgeable and somewhat personal. The book, however, is not necessarily a travel guide.

The book tells in chapters many of the important eras in the city’s history, many relating to the mass movements of people. The author is not very interested in political figures, being more interested in the arts, literati scene, music, social movements, and sociology of the city. All sorts have made their home there, and it houses various ethnic and financial enclaves. San Francisco can be an Instant City, adapting to major changes and becoming a voice for the socially and politically motivated overnight. Things can change so fast that even a book like this does not seem cutting edge. One might wonder what the author thinks of the Oscars’ Best Foreign Film of last year, A Fantastic Woman, which sends a message the city tries to teach via Sam Francis, a singing teacher. The city has its share of vice and crime, but also dreamers, defenders, and idealists. This is part of a series about cities, and it is so satisfying readers might be interested in learning about others also.

Reviewed By:

Author Michael Johns
Star Count 4.5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 256 pages
Publisher Reaktion Books
Publish Date 2018-May-15
ISBN 9781780239217 Buy this Book
Issue August 2018
Category History


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