5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: People Wasn't Made to Burn: A True Story of Housing, Race, and Murder in Chicago (Hardcover)
Joe Allen has written a masterpiece of historical narrative. The story of James Hickman and his family is an emotionally wrought story on its own. Allen's retelling leaves none of that emotion out. Although it is history he is writing down, the manner of the telling makes that history as current as the latest breaking news. The book is further enhanced by the inclusion of artist Ben Shahn's illustrations reprinted from a 1947 Harper's magazine feature about the Hickman case. Allen ends his story with a description of a 2010 fire in Cicero, Illinois, which is right outside of Chicago. There were no fire escapes in the building and it was overcrowded. The people who lived there were violating occupancy laws because they could not afford separate apartments. That fire killed seven people and was found to be deliberately set by the landlord and his maintenance man. This time around the authorities were able to get an indictment of the men responsible for the deaths. In fact, the prosecution intends to seek the death penalty. However, the system that Willoughby Abner said "failed to heed the need of Hickman and millions of other Hickmans" continues to force people to live in unsafe living conditions while making it likely that unscrupulous landlords will continue to choose profits over the safety of those who rent from them. Indeed, it will continue to make it likely that certain landlords would rather burn their properties than take care of them.
-excerpt from Counterpunch