The authors use never-before-published eyewitness reports and previously ignored documents of the insurance companies, the military, and the Red Cross
to tear away myths surrounding the holocaust. They expose the real villains and heroes, show how the political powers tried to conceal the amount of damage caused by the earthquake
, reveal that the fire was spread by the inexperienced dynamite squads trying to contain it, and tell how the military executed people without trial.
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The San Francisco earthquake inflicted heavy damage in 1906 and was followed by widespread fires that could not be controlled, which devastated much of what had survived the quake.