Chicago in 1919 was a city in transition. It had grown from a small frontier town to one of the great cities of the US but much of its growth was chaotic. Urban planning was virtually nonexistent, the economy was in flux following World War I, and racial tensions were growing between whites and the growing black community. The Chicago Mayor, Big Bill Thompson, and his conspirator, Fred Lundin, had a great plan for the city. The Chicago plan would widen mean streets into great boulevards and highways, build beautiful bridges, erect skyscrapers, and fund other public projects to transform Chicago.
In July 1919, Chicago suffered a devastating 12 days. It began with the crash of the blimp, Wingfoot. The blimp caught fire and crashed in the heart of Chicago killing many innocent citizens. This is followed by the search for a young missing girl who turns up murdered by a predator, a transit strike, and deadly racial riots that result in the burning of many parts of the city. Behind the scenes, the mayor and his political enemy, governor Frank Lowden, were both trying to use these disasters for their own political good. These disasters and their aftermath cause fundamental changes in Chicago and to US history. Thompson, angry over Lowden's meddling in Chicago, will go on to destroy Lowden's chance to be the Republican nominee for president. The aftermath of the racial riots force many Chicagoans to finally confront the growing problems in the Black Belt. Chicago would go on to transform itself but the events of July 1919 would be engrained into the city's psyche.
This book was well written and highly entertaining and the history is well researched. The author includes many personal narratives to tell this story. I would recommend this book to fans of American and Chicago history. Definitely recommend.