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Trapped: The 1909 Cherry Mine Disaster Paperback – September 17, 2003

4.7 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Worked by a variety of European immigrants, the Cherry coal mine in northern Illinois was, ironically, considered one of the nation's safest. But when a kerosene torch accidentally ignited a wagonload of hay bales on November 3, 1909, the flames soon got out of control, resulting in the nation's worst mine fire. The tragedy spawned Progressive-era laws to regulate mines and protect workers. Tintori's grandfather survived the fire, and her genealogical quest developed into an extensive investigation of the calamity. Although this is her first book, the author's writing skills are evident; she crafts a compelling account of beleaguered miners trapped in a living hell and their distraught families on the surface. The lack of an index and a bibliography limit this title to general reading rather than scholarly discourse. Still, Tintori has presented a very accessible and gripping account of a human tragedy that elicited both the best and worst from those involved. Highly recommended. Daniel Liestman, Florida Gulf Coast Univ. Lib., Fort Myers
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

On November 13, 1909, a fire trapped 480 coal miners--men and boys--400 feet below ground in a mine at Cherry, Illinois. Only 221 escaped. Not until the following March were the bodies retrieved and buried. Hundreds of women were widowed and nearly 500 children were orphaned in what was the worst coal mine fire in U.S. history. The author's grandfather survived by a quirk of fate: a hangover keeping him home from work that day. Tintori describes the life-and-death struggle of the miners below ground and the terror of the women and children gathered at the mine's entrance, praying for their loved ones. She draws on firsthand accounts of survivors, government inquiries and reports, legal correspondence, photographs (there are 14 black-and-white ones in the book), newspaper accounts, pamphlets, court reporters' transcripts of testimony taken at the coroner's inquest, commemorative programs, and memorabilia. Tintori's graphic account of this tragedy is a sad but gripping story. George Cohen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; Reprint edition (September 17, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743421957
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743421959
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #748,080 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Paul Tognetti TOP 500 REVIEWER on October 28, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Karen Tintori's account of the Cherry, Ill. mining disaster quite unexpectedly turns out to be one of the best books I have read this year. Because the author's grandfather worked at that mine (he was home nursing a hangover the day of the disaster), Tintori was a woman on a mission. Her meticulously researched book takes you back nearly a century and recreates the scene so very well. We learn about the town and the imigrant miners who risked their lives each day to eke out a living. Tintori then recalls the unlikely set of tragic events that caused the fire at the mine and the heroic actions of the dozen men who time and time again went back into the inferno attempting to rescue those who were trapped. Fortunately, their efforts did not go unrewarded!!! The shocking part is that the mine continued normal operations for a couple of hours after the fire broke out, causing considerably more casualties than would have otherwise occurred. As a result of this tragedy, significant changes were made to existing Workmen's Compensation and coal mining safety laws. The town of Cherry maintains a small archive of the mine fire in the local town library. I believe it is open only one day a week. I was so moved by Karen Tintori's account of these tragic events that I really do want to visit that library someday. Don't miss this one!!!
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Format: Hardcover
"Trapped" is the latest in a recent glut of books about historical disasters. The quality of these books depends largely on the storytelling ability of the author in question. Fortunately, Karen Tintori, who has a familial connection to this particular disaster, is well up to the task. She tells the harrowing tale of the 1909 Cherry (coal) Mine fire in central Illinois that ranks as the nation's third deadliest mine disaster. Over 250 men died in the mine, and the death toll could have been much worse if not for the amazing heroism of some of the rescuers (eight of whom died in circumstances eerily reminiscent of the firefighters who perished on September 11th).
The disaster was the usual result of carelessness, bad luck and arrogant overconfidence. When built, the Cherry Mine was thought to be fireproof, much like the Titanic was thought to be iceberg proof. When the fire started, it wasn't taken seriously at first, indeed, the elevator operators continued to haul up coal for over an hour after the initial flames appeared. By the time the danger became readilly apparent, it was too late for a majority of the miners.
Tintori adopts the correct tone for such a book, letting the words of the survivors speak for themselves whenever possible. Her account of the twenty miners who spent several days trapped below ground and presumed dead before being rescued is particularly compelling, as are the verbatum words from a short journal written by a trapped miner who eventually suffocated. Tintori may not quite have the narrative touch of say, Sebastian Junger or Jon Krakauer, but she is still quite good.
Overall, an excellent historical account of a very unfortunate trajedy.
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Format: Hardcover
The Cherry Mine disaster of 1909 made the little coal mining town of Cherry, Illinois the unwilling center stage of a world wide drama. When 20 survivors were found, the president of the United States sent a telegram hoping more would be found. The story is gripping, and the book "Trapped" does justice to that story. It is impossible to just open the book to look up a fact, for you will soon find yourself immersed in the story all over again no matter how many times you have read it previously. As one who is a member of a Yahoo group on the Cherry Mine Disaster, I join other historians who are very pleased that "Trapped" tells the story while sticking to what really happened. There are no embellishments, no fanciful enhancements. This is the story as it actually unfolded. And because it is true, because it really happened, it affects the emotions even more. The Cherry mine disaster has been the subject of a number of theses for students and also of movies. This is a book worthy to tell the story of what happened that day in 1909, and will take its place in libraries and universities as a worthy reference.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a real page turner. Karen Tintori does a great job of putting her story in context. She gives us a good feel for the mood of the times, and a fine appreciation for the life of a Cherry Hill miner. One fascinating part for me was how a series of small errors cascaded into a full scale catastrophe. Additionally, Tintori was able to interweave many different threads - the activities of the trapped miners underground, of the miners' families and mining company officials in Cherry Hill, and of government troops and experts arriving on fast amd efficient trains - into a cohesive and easy to follow tale. Most interesting of all were the steps that one group of miners took to stay alive. Their adventures, and those of their heroic would-be rescuers, give new insights on survival under all-but-impossible odds. This is a very involving story. If you are not afraid of an emotional roller coaster, then hop aboard for a ride!
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By A Customer on January 22, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I live 5 miles from Cherry, and we have already had a local author who retold the story several years ago, so I was interested to read the new version of events. The author has obviously done her research well, and attempted to relay the events in a logical sequence, but I felt the text needed more diagrams, possibly a glossary of mining terms. A list of the dead is included, but a list of survivors would be interesting from a local point of view.
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