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Boston on Fire (Hardcover) Hardcover – August 1, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

FIRES HAVE SHAPED BOSTON SINCE its founding on a narrow peninsula in 1630. Innovations by Bostonians have led to improvements in firefighting and fire prevention across the land. In the first comprehensive history of Boston’s major fires, Stephanie Schorow tells the dramatic tales of seventeenth-century fires (which were viewed as signs of God’s wrath), the 1834 Ursuline convent fire, the Great Fire of 1872, the Chelsea conflagrations of 1908 and 1973, the tragic Cocoanut Grove nightclub fire of 1942, the Vendome Hotel collapse that killed nine firefighters in 1972, and an arson ring that terrorized the city in the early 1980s. Chapters are also devoted to two key Boston innovations: the Hunneman fire engine and the citywide fire alarm system (first in the nation) developed by William Francis Channing and Moses Farmer. You’ve heard of the Freedom Trail. Discover Boston’s Fire Trail!

About the Author

Stephanie Schorow is a former reporter for the Boston Herald and a freelance writer focusing on topics of regional and national interest. She is the author of Boston on Fire: A History of Fires and Firefighting in Boston and The Cocoanut Grove Fire. She lives in Medford, Massachusetts.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Commonwealth Editions; First Edition edition (August 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1889833444
  • ISBN-13: 978-1889833446
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.9 x 9.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,301,201 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Reporter, editor, author and freelance writer, Stephanie has been having her way with words since she first realized how verbs and nouns can work together. A native of Chicago, she realized she had come home when she moved to Boston in 1989. After stints as a journalist at the Boston Herald, the Associated Press and newspapers large and small, she turned to nonfiction narratives. She has written or co-written five books on Boston's history: Boston On Fire: A History of Fire and Firefighting in Boston; The Crime of the Century: How the Brink's Robbers Stole Millions and the Hearts of Boston; The Cocoanut Grove Fire; East of Boston: Notes from the Harbor Islands; and (with Beverly Ford) The Boston Mob Guide: Hitmen, Hoodlums and Hangouts. Her sixth book, Drinking Boston: A History of the City and its Spirits will be published in October of 2012. Stephanie is much in demand as a speaker and delights audiences with her tales of the underside of the city of Boston. She continues to work as a freelance writer to support herself, her two cats, and her newly acquired addiction to craft cocktails. A clay artist, she sells her pottery through the Mudflat Gallery in Cambridge. She also teaches pottery and freelance journalism -- although her advice to young reporters consists mostly of "Run away while you still can." Despite her own advice, she continues to write for the Boston Globe and other publications and often stands on street corners with the cardboard sign, "Will Write For Food." She continues to try to improve her wicked smahdt Boston accent.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Stuart CODY on April 6, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book. This is a carefully crafted and well researched collection of tales about fires out of control and what are very scary risks, even up to the present day.
It starts from times when there were no machines to fight fires, dirt roads downtown, little or no water available, and nobody on the payroll. Stories cover fires in and around Boston that wiped out entire neighborhoods and changed hundreds of lives. The story of the famous Cocoanut Grove fire of late 1942 is right from the front line and for me, brought the recent Station Nightclub fire to mind.
As a bridge to further study, it has detailed references to source material drawn upon, but I have to think that none of it can be more captivating than this compendium.....
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By James R. Holland VINE VOICE on January 4, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A person would not expect to find a history of fire fighting in Boston to be a difficult book to put down. I bought this volume mostly because I had enjoyed the author's earlier story of the Cocoanut Grove Fire and I'm delighted I did. I had no idea of all the inovations in fire fighting that were first invented or applied in Boston. I happened to start reading the book at the back when I was thumbing through it and came across a description of the fire at the Vendome Hotel on Commonwealth Avenue. I'd witnessed that fire while passing by on my way to work. I then read the book from that point to the end before starting to re-read it from the beginning. It was amazingly accurate because I'd been alive and read about many of those recent fires at the time. The great fires from the past were even more fascinating.The author did a wonderful job of making what could have been boring, boring, boring, into a history that was riviting, riviting, riviting. It's a great read even for non-sparks and fire fighters.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By graybat on December 30, 2010
Format: Paperback
Stephanie was our guest speaker for our Oct 2010 Boston Chapter of the American Society of Safety Engineer's technical meeting. Her presentation was about her research into the historical fires in Boston and this book was really good in the technical aspects uncovered in the research and the human toll the fires had. It is a really good read.
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Really great research. Very well written, not at all dry. Ms Schorow draws you right into each event, often heartbreakingly. I remember the Vendome fire, and Chelsea burning. She has an excellent grasp on the particular character of Boston.
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