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Great Chicago Fires: Historic Blazes That Shaped a City (Illinois) 1st Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
The account of the Our Lady of the Angels School Fire is particularly engrossing. We learn about a troubled boy who probably set the fire. The fire burned for some time, unnoticed. Then the stairwell caught fire, sending smoke into the second-floor hallway, and trapping the children and teachers. Soon the hallway flashed over. So did the cockloft above the classrooms. Yet the firefighters heroically managed to pull at least 150 children, out of the windows, and out of the jaws of certain death. There are several photos of the recovery of the bodies after the fire.
Discussion of the McCormick Place Fire of 1967 includes a telling picture of the failed roof truss (p. 106). This served to remind us that steel in general, and long, unsupported steel trusses in particular, do poorly in large fires. (This later was a major factor in the collapse of the WTC towers on 911).
This book is not limited to spectacular, single fires. There is also discussion of several non-famous individual fires, as well as the many fires that were ignited during the 1960's race riots, especially following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King.
I was also pleased to discover so much new detail here. I had thought it likely that much here would be no more than a retelling of familiar fire stories, but that was not so. I have studied these fires, and still learned a lot. For instance; Lloyds of London cancelled all policies in Chicago one year before the great fire because of its condition. The Iriquois Theater was built with historic building fires in mind, but the owners cut corners to open early. The mayor of an Illinois town who died in the La Salle hotel blaze of 1946 was going to stay elsewhere, but was sent to the La Salle by mistake. These are but three fascinating facts from this work on 'Great Chicago Fires'.
Overall, I found this to be a very good book that covers a very wide range of interesting fires. It has a great deal of information on the various fires, and the text is written in an interesting manner. Also, along the way, the reader is treated to many great black-and-white photos.
[By the way, if you are interested, check out my Listmania! list, Death and Destruction in Illinois, for books on other Illinois disasters.]
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is an amazing book that does a wonderful job of chronicling Chicago's fiery past. I read story after story of brave, valiant firemen who risked their lives and (some) paid... Read morePublished on March 8, 2013 by bookfanatic1979
A good overview of many fires in Chicago history that will prompt you to do more reading on the subjests.Published on August 24, 2010 by S M Senden