I only read two books all week. One, a trash novel. The other a non-fiction that I was really excited about. Unfortunately, Robert Graysmith's Black Fire The True Story of the Original Tom Sawyer-- and of the Mysterious Fires that Baptized Gold Rush-Era San Francisco has a more impressive title than anything else.
I was fascinated by the idea that Tom Sawyer existed and that Mark Twain had actually met him. The book had so much promise with disastrous fires, gangs of criminals and vigilantes. And a real Tom Sawyer and Mark Twain!
If I were more mechanically inclined, perhaps I may have appreciated the 70-some pages devoted to describing how the fire trucks functioned. If I were more patient, perhaps I would have had an easier time trying to follow the cut-and-paste timeline that tried to follow the fires, but veered into meandering tangents so often that I frequently scanned pages just to find a date. The book feels almost as if the author wanted to cram about 18 stories into one. I get it, but by page 90 I was begging for an editor.
Credit the author with the making me glad I never lived in San Francisco in the mid-1800s. But that's about it. I think this book is mediocre, but because I was looking so forward to a really good history, I was overly disappointed.