RSB Books

RSB Books

Richard Schwartz
Writer, Historian
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RSB Books
Eccentrics, Heroes, and Cutthroats of Old Berkeley
Earthquake Exodus, 1906
Berkeley 1900
The Circle of Stones

 Richard Schwartz Biography

 

Richard Schwartz grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1968 at Central High School he won  varsity football's "Team Award" and was the undefeated Pennsylvania State Fencing Champion in the weapon Epe in 1969. Schwartz graduated from Temple University in 1973 with a bachelor's degree in English literature. For two years while at Temple he worked on a Pennsylvania Dutch farm eleven hours a day, three days a week.

He came to Berkeley in 1973 and formed the New World Trio, an acoustical jazz trio with Eric Vaughan (Godson of Sarah Vaughan) on piano, Samahdi Aheshma (played with Miles Davis at sixteen years old) on bass, and himself on drums. He also played in Abukar, a Berkeley Latin jazz sextet, and taught drums in a Berkeley after school program.

In 1976 Schwartz joined the U.S. Forest Service to fight fires in the Sierra. It was during this time that he came across an ancient sixty-five foot stone circle near Truckee. His curiosity about this configuration led to his first book, "The Circle of Stones," a nonfiction archeological mystery.

Schwartz has spoken to and/or written articles for the Conference of California Historical Societies, The California Historical Society, The Society of California Archivists, The California Preservation Society, The United States Geological Survey, The Oakland Museum of California, The East Bay Regional Parks, San Francisco State University, De Anza College, The 1906 Great Earthquake and Fire Exposition, The 1906 Centennial Symposium, The Bay Area Earthquake Alliance, The 1868 Hayward Earthquake Alliance, The Berkeley Shellmound Conference, The Alameda County Historical Society, The Contra Costa Historical Society, The Alameda History Museum, The Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association, The Berkeley Path Wanderers, The Berkeley City Commons Club, The Berkeley Historical Society, The El Ceritto Historical Society, The Moraga Historical Society, The Oakland Heritage Alliance, The Truckee Historical Society,The Gov. Pardee Home Museum, The Bay Area Rock Art Research Association, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Berkeley Daily Planet, The Berkeley Voice, The California Monthly, The Daily Californian, The East Bay Express, The Monthly, The Oakland Tribune, The Contra Costa Times, KCBS, KPFA, KALX, KMPT, West Coast Live, ABC Channel 7, KTVU Channel 2, KRON Channel 4, KPIX Channel 5, KTSF Channel 26, The Albany Library, The Berkeley Public Library, The San Francisco Public Library, The Kensington Library, The El Ceritto Public Library, The Watershed Envirnmental Poetry Festival, The Audubon Society, and other institutions on this and other Native American and American historical topics.

In 1982 Schwartz earned his General Building Contractors license from the State of California, where he is also certified to condemn and examine buildings for the State after an earthquake. He continues through the present to be active in the construction trades and has specialized in design, exterior lighting design, earthquake retrofitting, drainage/water issues, and leak diagnoisis work.

In the early 1990s he joined a Brazilian samba school and played in the San Francisco and Oakland Carnivals. In 1992 he traveled to Brazil and studied Afro-Brazilian drumming with Carlinios Brown. He co-led "Orixa Ba Ba" of San Francisco on billings that included Ray Charles and Tower of Power. The group also performed on San Francisco's KQED television.

In 1996 Schwartz was at the Berkeley Historical Society when a stack of Berkeley newspapers circa 1900 was about to be discarded by the Society. He rescued the newspapers by taking them home. These rescued "Berkeley Gazettes" became the basis for the book "Berkeley 1900." Richard Schwartz put four years into the research, writing, and production of "Berkeley 1900" and published it himself. "Berkeley 1900" was on the "East Bay Best Sellers List" in the "East Bay Express" for ten months. The book was chosen by the "San Francisco Chronicle" as one of ten "Holiday Gift Books of the Year" in 2000.

Schwartz released "Earthquake Exodus, 1906" in November, 2005. It is the only book to focus on the refugees and relief effort instead of the disaster. Mayor Tom Bates of Berkeley has already utilized the research in the book to comment in the "San Francisco Chronicle" on the response to Katrina. Schwartz presented a Certificate of Honor from then-San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom to the citizens of Berkeley for Berkelyeans' role in saving the lives of tens of thousands of refugees from the San Francisco 1906 Earthquake. The book was featured on many local TV and radio stations and received recognition in Europe.

In July of 2007, Schwartz released the book, "Eccentrics, Heroes, and Cutthroats of Old Berkeley" which documents the lives of seventeen men and women who were famous in their day (1850-1925), but have been all but forgotten in our modern world. It was these colorful pioneers that gave Berkeley its original character. Their stories will be well utilized by our current citizens. The reviews and citizen feedback and appreciation of this latest work have been gratifying to Schwartz. "Eccentrics, Heroes, and Cutthroats of Old Berkeley" was picked as a 2007-2008 "Holiday Gift Book of the Year" by the "San Francisco Chronicle", and "Alameda Magazine" and the staffs at Pegasus Books and Cody's Books also singled out the book as one of their favorites for the holidays.
   
In September of 2009, the 10th Anniversary Edition of "Berkeley 1900, Daily Life at the Turn of the Century" was released. It contains 150 new photos, many of which were never seen publically before. They represented ten additional years of pioneer descendants contacting Schwartz with their family albums and years of searching for new photos by Schwartz. The reception this beloved book received, which had been sold out and out of print since 2003, has been most vigorous by the press and public.

As of 2011, Schwartz has spoken at hundreds of events and continues to promote history, while still working his day job as a building contractor. He also has recorded over 200 previously unknown local Indian sites, of which he sends reports to the State archive at Sonoma State University. (C.H.R.I.S.) If you ever found or know of such sites or artifact finds, please email him. His email button is at the top of the page. In 2014 he was hired by the archeological consulting firm that was studying the West Berkeley Shellmound to share his knowledge of many archeological sites in the area. Schwartz is working on a number of new history books.

 
RSB Books
Eccentrics, Heroes, and Cutthroats of Old Berkeley
Earthquake Exodus, 1906
Berkeley 1900
The Circle of Stones