1978 was the year that changed San Francisco forever, writes Lincoln A. Mitchell
in San Francisco Year Zero: Political Upheaval, Punk Rock and a Third-Place Baseball Team
(Rutgers University Press, 2019). After the long hangover from the heady 1960s and summer of love, San Francisco was, by the late ‘70s, a city in transition and a city in crisis. The election of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay American elected official, and the re-election of left-wing mayor George Moscone seemed to indicate a rejection of political centrism and an embrace of leftist municipal politics. That all changed in November when an assassin’s bullet killed both leaders, bringing Diane Feinstein to power and putting the city on a path to economic inequality and broadly liberal social politics. Behind the political chaos, the culture of the Grateful Dead was giving way to the punk rock scene, and a mediocre-yet-lovable Giants team was capturing the hearts of its fans and banishing all fears of a possible relocation to the east coast. 1978 created today’s San Francisco, for good and ill, and Mitchell tells the story of a city he loves in vivid detail and a keen sense of narrative. San Francisco has long been an easy city to stereotype – San Francisco Year Zero
urges readers to embrace the complications hidden just out of sight below the city’s foggy surface.
Stephen Hausmann is an Assistant Professor of US History at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota. He teaches courses on modern US history, environmental history, and Indigenous history and is currently working on his book manuscript, an environmental history of the Black Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming.