RSB Books

RSB Books

Richard Schwartz

Writer, Historian


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RSB Books

The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty

Eccentrics, Heroes, and Cutthroats of Old Berkeley

Earthquake Exodus, 1906

Berkeley 1900

Circle of Stones

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SPEAKING SCHEDULE is BELOW these listed Lecture Reviews

"Richard Schwartz has an absolute genius for showing his readers what was going on behind the big headlines -- little-seen graphic images of what the average person saw and experienced and remembered forever."
"Richard Schwartz is living proof that there is no such thing as dull history...The past springs to life through his nimble mind with absolutely no sacrifice of authenticity."
-Mary-Ellen Jones, retired Bancroft Library archivist, UC Berkeley and current editor of the California Historian, the quarterly magazine of the Conference of California Historical Societies
"Besides being an extremely knowledgeable local historian, Richard has a rare gift as a storyteller. When he combines these two roles the result is a wonderful and entertaining evening for his audience. For me, attending one of Richard's lectures is like having a short course from the best possible history professor. You leave having learned a great deal, and having had a most enjoyable time in the process!"
-Arlene Baxter, President, Berkeley Association of Realtors

The History Guild of the Oakland Museum of CA had the good fortune of asking Richard Schwartz to be the speaker at the 2008 annual meeting in June.  One hundred and thirty members attended and were treated to a wonderful, informational presentation by Mr. Schwartz which brought the characters of early Berkeley to life. By the end of the presentation we felt like we  intimately knew the individuals in his book..."
-Yvonne S.  McCredie,  Immediate Past President of the History Guild of the Oakland Museum of California

"Everybody that night was delighted to meet [Richard] and hear his colorful stories full of characters with a Berkeley- San Francisco connection…  
The most impressive thing is this:  he told stories folks had never heard before.  And that says a lot about how deep his digging goes, because we had some veteran history-hounds sitting there in the room that night…Good going Richard!" 
-Lisa Dunseth,  Bernal Heights Branch Library Manager,  San Francisco Public Library

"The audience at this Arts and Culture Salon was enraptured by Richard's presentation, and his description of the heroic fire horses of San Francisco particularly entertained and moved me…my husband has been enjoying the book, Eccentrics, Heroes, and Cutthroats of Old Berkeley, which I purchased at the event."
-Elizabeth Thacker-Estrada, Excelsior Branch Library Manager, San Francisco Public Library

"Richard Schwartz is a fabulous storyteller of Berkeley's history. As a pertinent example, at the Berkeley Public Library, Richard presented stories and slides from Earthquake Exodus, 1906...He made that incredible time come vividly alive with unforgettable and carefully researched vignettes.  He tells unique stories about a unique city...'
-Allan Bern, Community Relations Librarian, Berkeley Public Library

"Richard Schwartz is an amazing speaker. I have seen four of his presentations, and all were excelant, and each featured unique content...Schwartz has clearly done substantial research in historical archives, but he has also  discovered much more through diligent legwork.  The history of Native American life in pre-European times is an area of his special expertise.  He has discovered a number of historic sites and he is working with local authorities to protect them from vandalism... My personal favorite of Richard's yarns is his account of finding a cannonball in Codornices Creek in North Berkeley.
 Our East Bay Regional Parks Volunteer Hiking Patrol was enthralled by Richard's lecture on Native American sites in the local park lands."
-Amellia Marshall, Co-Chair, East Bay Regional Parks Volunteer Hiking Patrol

An Audubon walk I led on a cold, quiet January morning at Redwood Regional Park was one of the more challenging in years; for finding and seeing birds that is. But 'challenging' turned to 'engaging' when Richard began a 30 minute talk about the astonishing history of our Redwoods. Everyone was riveted and many thanked me afterwards for adding this historical dimension to a nature walk. Richard saved the day. He really did. Anyone who has not heard his recounting should seek this out. You will never view the East Bay Redwoods the same way again.
-Rusty Scalf, Audubon Society Field Trip Leader

"Richard speaks with contagious enthusiasm about the history of Oakland's redwoods. The depth of his knowledge is impressive as he makes unique connections between Oakland's redwoods and California's history."
-Madeline Horn, Associate Director, Peralta Hacienda

"Richard, you are a Berkeley Treasure. Really enjoyed the talk and will see the neighborhood differently and with more open eyes from now on. My husband and I LOVED learning about Thousand Oaks. He said, "It's so good to see someone doing what they are supposed to be doing!"  Your love of local history is contagious. Thanks again."
-Nan Phelps, Nan Phelps Photography

"Thanks again for your wonderful talk to our CERT group--people still discuss the lessons learned from your presentation."
  -Member, Community Emergency Response Team, City of Walnut Creek, CA

"When we decided to offer a special event in October 2015 exploring the Emperor's "imperial diplomacy" in the East Bay and were considering whom to invite as our guest speaker, we quickly reached out to Richard Schwartz, whom we knew from his 2007 book, Eccentrics, Heroes, and Cutthroats of Old Berkeley — which includes an excellent chapter on Emperor Norton. Richard was an engaging speaker and a terrific storyteller. He also had done his homework — mining both the Oakland and Berkeley newspapers of the day and other contemporaneous accounts to present the kinds of details about Emperor Norton that one doesn't usually encounter.
Richard was able to marry all of these skills to create an empathetic portrait of the Emperor — a portrait through which Richard's evident love for the subject matter shone brightly."
-John Lumea, President, The emperor's bridge campaign

"The accolades keep coming in; people loved your discussion.  Thanks for your passion and dedication to the native peoples and keeping their memory alive... Schwartz' talk was informative and thought provoking about  a subject too little discussed today in Berkeley, pre-Columbian civilization in the East Bay.  For over two hours he captivated an audience of over 60  Berkeleyeans with tales of discovery and study of the people who lived in what is now Berkeley centuries ago.  Excellent job Richard!"
-Jef Findley, Berkeley History Room, Berkeley Public Library, Main Branch.

"On Saturday, September 24th, with a standing-room only crowd in attendance, the Contra Costa County Historical Society honored the culture and heritage of the County's first inhabitants.  Author/historian Richard Schwartz gave an excellent introduction to the earliest migrants into what is now California.  He also spoke of the weather and geography changes that gave rise to the landforms that we know today.  He spoke particularly about the imminent destruction of the remaining East Bay Shellmounds and their importance to understanding inhabitants there."
-Dean McLeod, Contra Costa Historical Society

Richard Schwartz held the audience in rapt attention when he spoke to the San Leandro Historical Society on June 17, 2017 about the remarkable story of M. B. Curtis. Schwartz knows how to tell a good story, and he is the kind of researcher who dives in to discover and follow the fascinating details and side trails of his subject.
-Cindy Simons, President, San Leandro Historical Society

"Richard Schwartz kept our Commonwealth Club audience entertained while informing them about a missing piece of history: the 19th century actor and entrepreneur M.B. Curtis's fascinating life on stage and off.  Schwartz rescues this once-famous man from the dustbin of history, where he did not belong.  Curtis hobnobbed with other celebrities of the time, but was a man of deep substance as well.  Schwartz makes it all clear with a storytelling style that matches his 19th century topic."
 -George Hammond, ‎Chairman of the Humanities Forum at The Commonwealth Club of California

Grammy award winner rap artist M. C. Hammer (Record of the Year; Album of the Year) approached Richard Schwartz after Richard delivered a private speech and shook his hand and said, "You did a really good job."

M. C. Hammer, Rap Artist, 2-Time Grammy Award Winner


From the Commonwealth Club club talk on Native American culture of the Bay Area talk 10/14/2019

"I'm 11 minutes into the talk and the tears are flowing."
Upon completing listening to the talk:
"Oh my goodness. I think in the hands (or voices) of others, this would sound simply bleak and hopeless. Yet, at the end, I felt positive and hopeful. And I could relate very much. Thank you so "
-Norma Wallace, Ohlone.

"What a great talk Sunday about Indian Life at the Hillside Festival. Eye opening. I love the way your storytelling skills make it possible for people to imagine that they are back in the 1700s and the early 1800s, to envision what things looked like, sounded like. And the way you imagine yourself into the minds of the Indians, how they saw the European arrivals, how their beliefs caused them to misunderstand what was happening. And how the Europeans were also blinded, to worse effect. It is clear you put a lot of work into this talk and I appreciate it. It seems like many people there were your fans…Your talk was the best attended of any event at the Hillside Festival."
-David Weinstein, President El Cerrito Trail Treckers

"Richard's talk and presentation at Mechanics' Institute was full of historical insights, moving and hilarious stories, and connections to our world today. The audience was engaged with rapt attention, not wanting to miss a detail in the historical photos and documents shared or Richard's seemingly endless depth of knowledge. A wonderful program all around!"
-Alyssa Stone, Senior Director of Programs and Community Engagement, Mechanics' Institute.

"I REALLY enjoyed your program last night. I can only begin to fathom the amount of research you put into the subject and it is remarkable how many details that you discovered and organized them in a manner that is a very interesting and entertaining program."

- Richard Torney, Board Member on the Kentfiled-Greenbrae Historical Society and the Jose Moya del Pino/Ross HIstorical Society


Richard Schwartz's Event Dates in 2024 - Speaking Events and Media Events

This Week In America with Rick Bratton interviews Richard Schwartz (now on YouTube) about the most famous and forgotten immigrant to American who lit the Statue of Liberty when Congress turned off the lighting after the Lady's dedication and how Mark Twain attempted to team up with Curtis to produce a theatrical version of his new book, Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. Click on the link to the top left to hear the show. 

"This is a fascinating book of someone in history I had never heard of until I started reading the book. And just fascinated by this guy...
He has been dead for a hundred years but his influence is invisibly effecting us still...We do now know of M. B. Curtis thanks to the book...
That's what's amazing- the resilience [of M.B. Curtis]...Its an excellent read and leaves you wanting more...and hopefully we'd love to see this on
the big screen because its such an impactful story...
Its an excellent book."
Ric Bratton, Host, This Week in America