It is often said that history repeats itself as farce; events of this year have proven that it can also repeat itself as tragedy. One hundred years after fire in Chicago's Iroquois Theatre killed 602 people in a matter of minutes, we have seen massive loss of life at nightspots in Chicago and West Warwick, Rhode Island. The Iroquois, of course, remains the worst theater fire in American history. Hatch grew up in Chicago, and his father, a fire-insurance executive, owned a book published in 1904 to raise money for families of the victims. The pictures and testimonies in that book began Hatch's deep interest in the fire. His riveting and often infuriating narrative is an indictment of the hubris and negligence of the owners and city officials. Hatch, a former writer and reporter for CBS News, utilizes interviews and correspondence with survivors of the fire, which lends a special poignancy to the story. This is a painful but superbly written work about a wholly unnecessary tragedy. Jay FreemanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
About the Author
Anthony P. Hatch
, a native New Yorker raised in Chicago, is a former print, wire service and broadcast newsman. He began investigating the Iroquois disaster in 1961 while he was with CBS News. He was interested in the similarities between the Iroquois and the Titanic
disaster which occured nine years later. He was able to get eyewitness details from five elderly men directly involved in the Iroquois horror: a cub reporter for a Chicago newspaper who covered the theater's opening night and returned five weeks later to report on the disaster; a fireman who fought the blaze and later became Chicago fire commissioner; a wire service reporter called in from his beat at the stock yards; a Northwestern student who helped carry out the living and dead and a child who escaped from the theater by being passed, hand over hand, above the heads of fleeing adults. Hatch currently is general manager of public radio station KSFR in Santa Fe and teaches broadcast news at the University of New Mexico's School of Communications and Journalism. His written articles have appeared in The Nation, TV Guide, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Herald Examiner
, and the Santa Fe New Mexican
. This is his first book.