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The Longest Minute book cover

Matthew J. Davenport with The Longest Minute: The Great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 1906

Author Event
June 24, 2024 6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. ET

Drawn from never-before-published records and letters, this heralded work of history offers an intimate account of the horrors witnessed and endured during the Great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire. Join us to hear more from award-winning author Michael Davenport about his research, see rare photographs, and listen to tragic tales of loss and survivors’ experiences on the morning of April 18, 1906.

More than 118 years ago, San Francisco, then the largest city in the Western U.S., shook, crumbled, burned, and was completely devastated in an incomprehensible show of force by nature. In less than a minute, shockwaves shook the city, buckled its streets, shattered water mains, collapsed buildings on slumbering residents, and crushed hundreds. Then came the devastating fires, a second round of destruction that lasted weeks. From archival sources and hundreds of previously unpublished letters, many from private family collections; Matthew J. Davenport weaves a harrowing tale of the fateful day. The Longest Minute is meticulously researched and gracefully written, a harrowing chronicle of devastation, and a portrait of a city’s resilience in the aftermath of the Great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 1906. Join us to learn more from one of San Francisco Chronicle’s “Favorite Books” of last year!

Matthew Davenport

Matthew J. Davenport is the author of First Over There, a finalist for the 2015 Guggenheim-Lehrman Prize in Military History, was acclaimed as “a brilliant work for every library” by Library Journal and was heralded by Pulitzer Prize winning historian James McPherson as “military history at its best.” He has been a contributing writer for The Wall Street Journal book review and, and is a member of the Authors Guild.

Links from the presentation:

Insurance Litigation Transcripts:  

1906 Earthquake & Fire Digital Collection:

Sanborn Insurance Maps:  

Old City Directories:    

USGS Earthquake Ground Motion Simulator:   

Presented in partnership with GBH Forum Network

Our Special Thanks to American Inspiration Series Sponsors Susan K. and John D. Thompson