San Francisco, 1916. The streets
roiling: pitched battles between radical workers and the henchmen of industrial
barons, and between a vibrant, largely Italian immigrant anarchist milieu and
the forces of state and church. All in the looming shadow of Europe's raging
war, and of a fierce struggle over whether the U.S. should commit its might,
and human fodder, to the slaughter in the trenches.
Into this maelstrom arrives Kate
Jameson, a novice envoy from Washington tasked to secretly investigate the
tenor of support for war entry among San Francisco's business elite. She's also
hoping to glimpse her wayward daughter, Maggie, whose last message to Kate had
come from there. And, too, she's seeking the ghost of her husband Jamey, who
fifteen years earlier had landed there upon his return, shattered, from his
part in the U.S. occupation of the Philippines.
Arriving back in the city at the
same moment is Baldo Cavanaugh, a Sicilian-Irish son of San Francisco whose militant
beliefs and special skills have led him time and again to the violent extremes of
the city's turbulent history. And who now must confront the doubts and demons of
his own character, which he'd sought to escape by fleeing the city three years
This stunning tale
explores how these two seemingly disparate characters become engaged with the city's
and nation's turmoil, and with the complexities of their related pasts in
Boston, Dublin, London, Cuba, and the Philippines. A vivid picture of a city
and a moment, the novel brilliantly reveals the explosive admixture of the
deeply personal and the deeply political.