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 Epee in the 1969 competition. 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 or been reviewed or interviewed by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, The American Library Association, Booklist and Booklist Online, The Commonwealth Club of San Francisco, The Conference of California Historical Societies, The California Historical Society, the California Culture Resource Alliance Inc., American History Magazine, The California Native Plant Society, The California State Library, The Construction Specification Institute, The Society of California Archivists, The California Preservation Society, The Jewish Book Council, the Independent Publishers Book Awards, The Midwest Review of Books, The National Charity League, The Oakland Museum of California History Guild, The United States Geological Survey, The Oakland Museum of California, The East Bay Regional Parks, East Bay Media Center, 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, Bay Area Litquake, The Midwest Review of Books,  National Charity League, Native Berkeley Ancient Wisdom for Troubled Times, San Francisco Statue University Labor Fest, San Francisco History Days at the Old Mint, The Alameda County Historical Society, The Alameda Museum, The Albany Historical Society, The City of Walnut Creek, The Contra Costa County Historical Society, The Cub Scouts of America, The Alameda History Museum, The Albany Historical Society, The Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association, The Berkeley Path Wanderers, The Berkeley City Commons Club, The Berkeley Historical Society, Byron Park, Walnut Creek, CA, The Contra Coasta Historical Society, The East Bay Media Center, The El Cerrito Historical Society, The El Cerrito Trail Treckers Hillside Festival, The Emperor's Bridge Campaign, History Expo by the Hercules Historical Society, The Hillside Club, The Lafayette Historical Society, The Martinez Historical Society, The Moraga Historical Society, Native Here Nursery, The Oakland Heritage Alliance, Richmond Museum of History, Pt. Richmond Writers Group, San Francisco History Days, The San Leandro Historical Society, The Sonoma Valley Historical Society, The Southern Jewish Historical Society, The Thousand Oaks Neighborhood Association, The Truckee Historical Society, The Gov. Pardee Home Museum, The Westerners, The Bay Area Rock Art Research Association, Publishers Weekly's Book Life, This Week in America radio show, The History Author Show, WMST, Mount Sterling, KY, Mornings on Main with Dan Manly, Helping History Happen radio show, KXJZ Capital Public Radio Sacramento, West Coast Live with Sedge Thompson, the William Penn House, Philadelphia, The San Francisco Chronicle, SFGATE.com, Berkeleyside, The Berkeley Daily Planet, The Berkeley Historical Society Newletter, The Berkeley Voice, Bay Area News Group, The California Monthly, California, the alumni magazine of UC Berkeley, The Chestnut Hill Local,  Philadelphia, The Custer County Chronicle, Custer, South Dakota, The Daily Californian, The East Bay Express, The East Bay Times, Local News Matters, The Forward, The Jewish Book Council, The Jewish News of Northern California, JWeekly, Jewish News of DetroitThe Jewish Ledger, Custer Country Chronicle, Jlife of Orange County, Houston Congregation for Reform Judaism, Splice Today, Jamie Jobbs Backstage Pass, The Jewish Exponent of Philadelphia, The Jewish Ledger, Rodchester, NY, The Kanzhongguo Association Newspaper, The Monthly, The Martinez Gazette, The Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, The Oakland Tribune, Oakland Magazine, The Oakland Tribune, Splice Today, The Rambler  of the Southern Jewish Historical Society, SilentHollywood.com, San Francisco Main Library, TheaterJones.com, The Contra Costa Times, WGUB PBS NPR affiliate Western Michigan, KCBS, KQED, KPFA, KALX, KMPT, West Coast Live, ABC Channel 7, KTVU Channel 2, KRON Channel 4, KPIX Channel 5, KTSF Channel 26, Mathew and Friends Radio Show, ImpactRadio.com,, WTBF Radio, The Albany Public Library, The Berkeley Public Library Main Branch and North Berkeley, The Berkeley Public Library Foundation, The California State Library, The Oakland Public Library, The San Francisco Public Libraries, The Kensington Public Library, The El Cerrito Public Library, Free Libraries of Philadelphia, Andora and City Institute branches, The Sacramento Public Library,  Publishers Weekly, The San Francisco Libraries Main Branch and others, The Jewish Community Library, San Francisco, The Watershed Environmental Poetry Festival, The Hotel Shattuck Plaza, The Audubon Society, Afiikomen, Berkeley, Barnes and Noble in Oakland and Berkeley, CA and Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia, Book Passage Corte Medera and San Francisco, Britt-Marie's, Builders Booksource, Laurel Books,, Oakland, Orinda Books, Pegasus Books, Mrs. Dalloways Bookstore, Shakespeare Books, Philadelphia, Railroad Book Depot, Pittsburg, CA, Associated Alumni of Central High School, Philadelphia,  Kiwanas Club, Rotary Club, See's the Day Camp, Peninsula Jewish Community Center, Northbrae Community Church, churches, synogogues, schools, senior centers, book clubs, kids camps, Berkeley Boy Scouts, book clubs, bookstores 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, lighting design exterior, lighting design interior, earthquake retrofitting, drainage/water issues, and leak diagnosis 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 Berkeleyeans' 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 publicly 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.

In 2017, Richard released "The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty, The Extraordinary Rise and Fall of Actor M. B. Curtis." The book has been accepted in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Margret Herrick Collection. It is on sale at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island National Parks. Richard has given scores of interviews and talks on this forgotten American cultural hero. The book won the Bronze Medal for Biography from the 2018 Independent Publishers Book Awards.

As of 2021, 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 500 previously unknown local Indian sites, of which he sends reports to the State archive at Sonoma State University. (C.H.R.I.S.) 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. In 2021, Richard was hired by the archeological firm working for the City of Richmond and Cal Trans to consult and present the results of his pedestrian survey of Native American sites in the area of the I-80 Central Avenue Interchange Improvement Project, Phase 2. In May of 2022, Richard was named an Affiliated Research Scholar of the U.C. Berkeley Joseph A. Myers Center  for Research on Native American Issues. He will be co-teaching a research project there using sites Richard found to teach the students how to fill out the state forms of C. H. R. I. S. If you ever found or know of Native American sites or artifact finds, please email him so they can be added to the archeological record. His email button is at the top of the page. 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