Fortress Alcatraz (Paperback)

By Arturo John Martini

Ten Speed Press, 9781580086264, 160pp.

Publication Date: August 15, 2004



Before becoming known worldwide as the notorious penitentiary and, more recently, a famous tourist attraction, the little island of Alcatraz in the middle of San Francisco Bay was controlled by the U.S. Army for nearly 90 years. This barren, guano-covered island surrounded by treacherous currents was ideally located to serve its dual purposes as military defense post and prison. In FORTRESS ALCATRAZ, San Francisco historian John Arturo Martini explains the fascinating history of this landmark, from its discovery and seizure to its role during wartime; its tenure as a maximum security federal prison; and finally to its present-day status as part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

  • A painstakingly researched history of Alcatraz by former national park ranger and noted Alcatraz historian John Arturo Martini.
  • Lavishly illustrated with 150 diagrams and archival photographs, including rare 1869 photos by Eadweard Muybridge.
  • Of the many books written on Alcatraz, this is the first to detail the island's nearly forgotten but fascinating military history.

  • About the Author

    JOHN ARTURO MARTINI is a native San Franciscan, is a lifelong researcher into the history of the American West and specializes in historic preservation. He was a national park ranger for more than 25 years and served for many years at the Presidio of San Francisco as curator of military history for the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. He is the author of several books and articles on San Francisco military history and is currently working on an exhaustive history of all buildings remaining on Alcatraz. He lives in Fairfax, California, with his wife and a pair of pygmy goats.