GOLDEN CITY on FIRE, authored by Sherman Smith is a historical bone-chilling recount of San Francisco's most traumatic even, the 1906 devastating earthquake. Brilliantly written, Smith generates his research into riveting sentences sweeping the reader into the midst of hysteria and chaos as a small band of strong minds manage to keep their wits while all others are losing their sanity.
"…sorry I didn't bring a cake" is uttered as a simple calming honest birthday wish between two souls while all around them the trembling city explodes unto cinder and shatter, mangle and char falling to heaps of debris in the streets cutting off avenues and boulevards to floating in the bay clogging waterway escape. «It's hard to compartmentalize death and move on as if nothing had happened…"
Sentence after sentence, page after page the reader is swept into the scene caught up as a victim, a survivor, a policeman, fireman, giggling children playing a simple kick-the-can game while a hungry man grilles fish on flame as parents «stare with frightened little animal eyes…"
Maybe you are Lavinia, hurt and seemingly alone… «the heat and the smoke caused her vision to waver- a black and white dream with yellowish-orange undertones. All she knew was that she did not want to be where she was and that she really didn't know where that was.»
Sherman Smith vividly paints a portrait of mass humanity overcome to madness yet for a few giant professionals who manage to cling and build on their inner strength as they rise to grasp control in the face of overwhelming disarray. At the heart of this book glows love and compassion as in this scene of a China woman kneeling serenely at Lavinia's feet applying ancient comfort easing injury. "She closed her eyes not seeing or feeling the tiny needles the old woman inserted into her leg and foot."
A monumental tome of historical value, GOLDEN CITY on FIRE should be in every library.