13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Great Exploration of a Forgotten Incident that is Relevant Today
, February 18, 2009
This review is from: The Day Wall Street Exploded: A Story of America in Its First Age of Terror (Hardcover)
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. Others were only interested in finding the culprits and were true patriots. America survived the bombing, people were not afraid and the nation became even stronger. Some things never change.
The author takes on a lot in this book. She is writing about a complex investigation that occurred some 90 years ago and attempting to give the reader a sense of the times, which is not easy considering the period in American history. She succeeds. While the author gets into some pretty specific details the books flows well. It took me a number of days to read because to the amount of information she includes and the detailed footnoting but I would not have wanted her to do otherwise. The information is necessary to tell the whole story.
If you are interested in this time period this is a great book. If you want to see that people have not changed much in 80 years when it comes to reacting to terrorism read this book.
For me the names, occupations and ages of people killed by terrorism some 90-year's ago looks much the same as it does today. After reading the book and reading the names I felt sorry for those killed by terrorists so long ago. The next time I visit Wall Street I will pay my respects to those who died as senselessly as those who died on September 11.
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