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David Talbot, SF chronicler and founder, suffers ‘severe stroke’

David Talbot with light gray hair wears a black blazer over a light blue collared shirt, set against a dark background. He has a calm expression and looks directly at the camera.
Author and journalist David Talbot recently suffered a stroke and a fundraiser has been created in his honor. | Source: Courtesy David Talbot

Famed San Francisco historian and writer David Talbot suffered a “severe stroke” that has him fighting for his life, according to his family.

Talbot, who wrote the celebrated book “Season of the Witch” and founded the online news website, suffered a stroke on June 2. The tome was featured on The Standard’s list of 10 books everyone living in San Francisco should read.

“The timing is really sort of agonizing for us in all of this,” Joe Talbot, the author’s son, told The Standard on Monday. “Suffering a stroke at any time is hard. But it was happening since my dad was hoping to wind down and not work so hard for the first time in his life.”

Talbot’s son said the family was seeking financial help to find long-term housing for his parents and that the couple’s income stream has been seriously compromised. This month’s medical incident occurred when Talbot and his wife were moving out of their home of 30 years.

In a tweet, Supervisor Aaron Peskin shared a GoFundMe page that says Talbot experienced a “near-fatal stroke” that has left him in a “scary and precarious place.”

“Up until this point, David had been supporting himself and [wife] Camille through one small stream of income from his writing, which he will not be able to return to anytime soon or possibly ever, given the severity of this stroke,” the GoFundMe page reads. “Suddenly without income or long-term housing, we’re seeking some small relief for the Talbots as they navigate this trying time.”

Talbot has been a well-known writer in San Francisco for decades. His 2012 book “Season of the Witch” documented the tumultuous 1960s and ’70s, when the Summer of Love was followed by a period of fear and violence marked by the assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, the Zodiac Killer and the Jonestown massacre.

Talbot suffered from a stroke in November 2017, inspiring him to write “Between Heaven and Hell,” which detailed his recovery from the incident and was published in 2020. He spent over a month in the hospital after the first stroke and ended up with a numb right hand, dizziness and eyesight issues, according to a San Francisco Chronicle article about the book.

“David could write the phone book and make it interesting,” former San Francisco supervisor and state Sen. Tom Ammiano told The Standard. “He is such a gifted guy. We’re hoping for the best.”

Gary Kamiya, who helped found with Talbot, described the news as “devastating” to learn.

“I feel a great personal sense of sadness and wish him a full recovery,” said Kamiya. “I’m hoping people across San Francisco, whatever their politics, recognize that David is a major figure.”

Gabe Greschler can be reached at

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