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.

Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...