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The Day Wall Street Exploded: A Story of America in Its First Age of Terror Paperback – Bargain Price, September 13, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA; Reprint edition (September 13, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199759286
  • ASIN: B007MXHCJU
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,911,996 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Just after noon on September 16, 1920, as hundreds of workers poured onto Wall Street for their lunchtime break, a horse-drawn cart packed with dynamite exploded in a spray of metal and fire, turning the busiest corner of the financial center into a war zone. Thirty-nine people died and hundreds more lay wounded, making the Wall Street explosion the worst terrorist attack to that point in U.S. history. In The Day Wall Street Exploded, Beverly Gage tells the story of that once infamous but now largely forgotten event.

Take a Look at Wall Street Political Cartoons

Political cartoons in 1920 reflected public perceptions of the attack on Wall Street and its aftermath. Cartoonists directed their satire towards the villains of the age: communists, anarchists, and--according to one cartoonist--greedy employers. These images are featured in the decorative endpapers of The Day Wall Street Exploded. (Click on any image to enlarge).




Solidarity
December 17, 1921

New York Daily News
September 17, 1920

Chicago Tribune
Date Unknown



--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. On September 16, 1920, 81 years before 9/11, America experienced its first modern terrorist attack, a car bomb in the heart of New York's financial district that killed dozens, injured hundreds and was never solved. Writer and historian Gage presents a gripping account of class war and violence during the turn of the 20th century with deep resonance in the current state of the Union. A long time coming, 1919 saw a series of strikes sweep the country-including policemen, steel workers, miners, and a five-day general strike in Seattle-accompanied by a bombing campaign; 30 mail bombs were sent to prominent financiers, industrialists, and politicians in April 1919 alone. FBI director William J. Flynn, head of the Wall Street bombing investigation, believed members of an anti-capitalist anarchist sect were to blame, and sought unsuccesfully to condemn them with flimsy evidence (prompting muckraker Upton Sinclair to label Flynn a "self interested liar"). Weaving the story of the explosion and botched investigation with a masterful account of labor unrest over preceding decades, this is a highly relevant, hard to put down history of terror and civil liberties in America.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

This book is well footnoted so the author clearly has done her homework.
scesq
That day a horse drawn wagon full of dynamite exploded outside the J.P. Morgan building, killing 39 people and injuring hundreds, many very seriously.
Thomas Paul
If you enjoy reading history/detective sagas, then I highly recommend this book.
D. Hentze

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Kurt G. Schumacher VINE VOICE on March 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I'm very interested in this period in American history. But I still found this book very difficult to read. As other reviewers have pointed out, it's a scholarly examination of not only the Wall Street bombing, but the entire Socialist and Anarchist movement in the early part of the 20th century.

There are lots of names, lots of dates, lots of events. Chapters tend to jump back in time to cover a specific topic, which I found to be very confusing at times.

The book is very well written, but is very dry reading at times. I had to force myself through much of the last half of the book.

There was one statement in the book that made me step aside and do some research of my own. The author was describing the way that some communities "handled" the socialist movement, and she said: "In Bisbee, Arizona, mine bosses loaded some twelve hundred Wobblies and their families into rail cars and shipped them out to wither in the desert."

That sentence shocked me. Would people really have taken thousands of people (assuming "families" included women and children) into the desert and abandoned them to die? So I did a web search on "bisbee arizona wobblies".

I found a number of articles on the "Bisbee Deportation", all of which described the incident in much less sensational terms than the author. All of the articles described the people deported as "men" ("The deputies arrested more than 2000 men..."; "The posse rounded up more than 1,200 men..."). None of them mentioned "familes". The men were not "shipped out to wither in the desert", they were put on a train to Columbus, New Mexico. You can read the rest of the details in the articles you'll find. But I could find no account of anyone "withering in the desert".
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By scesq VINE VOICE on February 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I love American history and I was surprised to see a book that talked about a bombing on Wall Street that happened in 1920. I had heard about the bombing at Black Tom Island in New York Harbor in 1916 during World War I but had never heard of a peacetime bombing on Wall Street. The Day Wall Street Exploded taught me not only about the bombing itself but also about terrorism in the United States that occurred in the late 1800's that I never knew existed. It also gave me a great sense of the conflict between unions and capitalists, communists and members of the United States Government and anarchists and every government.

This book is well footnoted so the author clearly has done her homework. This is not a brief look into the subject but an exhaustive look at terrorism before the bombing, the bombing itself, the search for the culprits and the world which allowed the bombing to occur. Living just outside New York City I remember what it was like after the September 11 bombing. I remember the concern that something could happen so near. I remember the added security and the desire to find the masterminds behind the bombing.

The reaction by people to the September 16, 1920 Wall Street bombing was no different. An appendix at the end of the book lists the names, ages and occupations of the 38 men and women who died in the bombing. Despite its' much smaller scale innocents were killed (including students and secretaries and messengers and grocery clerks), people were amazed a bombing could occur on Wall Street and kill people for no real reason. People wanted to find those who were responsible.

The search was not perfect and some investigators had their own agenda in identifying the culprits. Some politicians used the bombing for political gain.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Anonymous VINE VOICE on September 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Don't get me wrong, the story is interesting. It is just a slow and tedious read. I can't quite put my finger on it other than the writing is just very dry. So many back stories and facts are presented and the timelines jump around a bit it was hard for me to keep straight what was happening when, and sometimes even why it was relevent to the day in question. Really, it seems like it is more of a history of the union politics and 'terrorist' tactics that were used to gain rights for workers than a focus on that particular day. It seems the book would have been a bit more successful in addressing it from that direction and leading up to events of that day instead of going back and forth, trying to tie everything together in a haphazard way. That being said, I learned quite a bit from this narrative and feel that it presents a side of American history that certainly wasn't taught in any of my history classes. I would say it is worth the read, just be prepared for it to take some dedication to finish!
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By CodeMaster Talon on May 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The above words, spoken by anarchist Johann Most, sum up the general attitudes of the rabble-rousers you will spend 300 pages with, should you choose to read "The Day Wall Street Exploded". A better title would have been "And then Wall Street Exploded: The Anarchist Movement of the Early 1900's", since that, as other reviewers have pointed out, is the actual subject.

Reading like a good student's loooooong term paper, the book is dense, Byzantine, and rather dry in style. We spend a lot of time with some truly annoying people, but then we also learn a lot about an age largely forgotten, a time with strong parallels to our own. The details of the attack itself are very interesting, but side trips into the repellent minds of Johann Most & Co. are not (with the exception of spitfire Emma Goldman, who at least is entertaining). I know conditions were wretched, and people had a right to be disgruntled, so what does it say that I found myself relieved to be back with the Morgans?

It comes down to the writing style. If you are not used to reading history, the endless details of this book might bore you. If you love it, you might like this read. History buff that I am, I still found myself kind of forcing it. In an age where apparently everyone ran around with lighted sticks of dynamite, dullness is inexcusable. With a hundred pages cut and a lot more color, this could have been a must.

Instead,

GRADE: C (B- if you love and adore Emma Goldman, or find scrawny, whiny Johann Most appealing.)
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