UC Berkeley honors Isaias Hellman

Frances Dinkelspiel author interview from Steven Pressman on Vimeo.

Berkeleyside’s own Frances Dinkelspiel is this week celebrating the paperback publication of her bestselling book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California.

Frances, who lives in Berkeley, has enjoyed considerable success with her book which tells the tale of her great-great grandfather, Isaias Hellman, who, as Abby Pollack wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle, was a “remarkable financier and builder who guided the transformation of almost every fledgling California industry — from banking to transportation, oil to utilities, newspapers and education to land development and wine — into a social and economic powerhouse”.

Towers of Gold was on the San Francisco Chronicle Bestseller list for five weeks. It was also a bestseller on the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association (NCIBA) list for many weeks. The Chronicle named Towers of Gold a notable book for 2008 and the NCIBA selected it as one of the best books of 2009Towers of Gold was also a finalist for a Northern California Book Award.


As a result of Towers of Gold, UC Berkeley designated Hellman one of its Builders of Berkeley and inscribed his name on a granite wall in front of Doe Library. Frances and two of Hellman’s other great-great granddaughters — Frances Hellman and Miranda Heller — attended the ceremony to accept a plaque with his name.

Frances is embarking on a series of speaking engagements to coincide with the paperback publication. Full details can be had here.