Since its publication in April, 2004, James Dalessandro’s 1906, an epic novel of the great San Francisco earthquake and fire, has fulfilled the prediction of the Chronicle’s Heidi Benson and become “a publishing sensation,” appearing regularly on Northern California Best Seller Lists for nine months. Mr. Dalessandro has appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered, The Ronn Owens radio show on KGO radio, and twelve regional television stations. Warner Brother’s Films is scheduled to begin production in 2005 on a $150 million film version of 1906, from a script also written by James Dalessandro.
He is currently finishing his 1906 documentary, THE DAMNDEST, FINEST RUINS, with partners CAVMEDIA of Napa, and Executive Producers Paul and Debbie Johnson of Napa. The one hour film is schedule for release by April 1, 2006.
On January 25, 2005, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to set aside the city’s official death count of 478 from the 1906 Earthquake and Fire, based on a resolution that he wrote and presented. It gives Mr. Dalessandro, Chairman of the Board of the City Museum of San Francisco, and Gladys Hansen, founder of the museum and Historian Emeritus of the City, until the Centennial on April 18, 2006 to produce a more accurate death count. The current list of casualties, assembled by Gladys Hansen in more than 40 years of research, is 3,400 and counting.
His previous novel, Bohemian Heart, a hard-boiled thriller about corruption and political assassination also set in San Francisco, introduced the descendants of the main characters in 1906, the Fallon/Fagen clan, a group of opera-loving, motorcycle riding young cops bent on ending the rampant graft in their beloved city.
Mr. Dalessandro has had a long and distinguished commitment to his adopted home of San Francisco. In 1973, he founded the Santa Cruz Poetry Festival with Ken Kesey, Allen Ginsberg and Charles Bukowski, which for four year was the nation’s largest literary event, drawing praise from Lawrence Ferlinghetti for “giving a new birth to American poetry.” He published his first work, Canary In A Coal Mine, that same year.
In 1999, he published Citizen Jane, the story of a Marin County woman who founded a national victim’s rights group and has helped solve 14 cold case murders. James is the screenwriter and co-executive producer of a Court TV Movie of The Week also called Citizen Jane.