John's Publications













John Arturo Martini

"Ranger John Martini exemplifies the Park Service. He is a fountain of information ... and he brings an attractive moral seriousness to the task of historic preservation."  

-- George Will, Washington Post Writers Group, 1988

John A. Martini is a native San Franciscan and a life-long researcher into the history of California and the American West. He worked as a National Park Ranger for more than twenty-five years at parks around the country including Fort Point National Historic Site, Alcatraz Island, the National Maritime Museum, the USS Arizona Memorial, the Presidio of San Francisco, and Teddy Roosevelt's estate at Sagamore Hill National Historic Site. 

For many years John was stationed at the Marin Headlands District of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area as a Supervisory Park Ranger for Interpretation and Education. He completed his long career with the National Park Service at the Presidio of San Francisco where he served as Curator of Military History. He now works as an independent historian / consultant specializing in historical research, interpretation and preserving of cultural resources.

John's specialty is historic preservation. In the late 1970s he supervised the transfer and restoration of a rare disappearing rifle from the Smithsonian Museum. He participated in the pioneering archeological surveys of the sunken battleship USS ARIZONA in Pearl Harbor and "dry land" explorations of Sutro Heights, the Presidio, and Lands End. He also coordinated the restoration of a 1950s Nike missile site and the conversion of an abandoned military chapel at Fort Barry into an award-winning Visitor Center. John has also carried out dozens of oral history recording sessions, preserving the words and memories of people spanning the historic spectrum from Alcatraz convicts to Japanese pilots who participated in the attack on Pearl Harbor.

He is also an acknowledged expert on America's coastal defenses and consults regularly with state and federal agencies on the preservation, restoration and interpretation of seacoast fortifications and artillery. In addition, John is recognized as the leading expert on Alcatraz Island during its years as a fortress and a U.S. Army military prison. Among his Alcatraz accomplishments was a series of Historic Structure Reports detailing the history of every building on the island.

John's published works include Fort Point: Sentry at the Golden Gate, Fortress Alcatraz, The Last Missile Site, Fort Baker Through the Years, and Sutro’s Glass Palace: The Story of Sutro Baths.


His articles have appeared in American Heritage, The Civil War Chronicles, After the Battle Magazine,the National Archives' quarterly journal Prologue, and numerous military history magazines and journals. He is a widely quoted authority on military and San Francisco history, and appears frequently on The History Channel, A&E Network, The Discovery Channel, and PBS history specials.


After more than 25 years as a ranger, John retired to pursue a career as a writer, historian, researcher, and lecturer. He still continues to volunteer for the National Park Service, notably on Alcatraz Island and at Fort Cronkhite in the Marin Headlands where he is currently leading the restoration of a World War II coast defense battery and its immense 120-ton battleship gun. 


John lives in Fairfax, California, with his wife Betsy Best-Martini, a recreational therapist. They share a house in the redwoods with a cat, a large dog, and a grumpy African pygmy goat.



Contact information: Email to  Telephone 415-453-9504