City of Scoundrels: The Twelve Days of Disaster That Gave Birth to Modern Chicago

Gary Krist. Crown, $26 (368p) ISBN 978-0-307-45429-4
Drawing readers in by focusing on the stories of individual Chicoans affected by a series of tragic events, Krist (The White Cascade) describes a Chicago that was “push[ed]… to the edge of civic disintegration” by 12 days of crises in the summer of 1919. On Monday, July 21, an experimental Goodyear blimp flying over the densely populated downtown Loop district to promote an amusement park suddenly burst into flames and crashed into the Illinois Trust and Savings Bank, injuring 27 and killing 13. The next day, the six-year-old daughter of Scottish immigrant grocers was snatched and choked to death by a neighbor who buried her body in the basement of their apartment building. On Saturday, July 26, a highly regarded municipal court judge committed suicide by jumping from his City Hall chambers, and on Sunday, a black youth’s death caused by a white bather at a whites’-only beach sparked a race riot on the South Side. As the rioting continued, a transit strike paralyzed Chicago on Tuesday, July 29, and endangering lives by playing politics, the controversial Mayor Big Bill Thompson dithered about calling in the National Guard to quell the violence. Krist serves up a solid, well-informed, and vibrant slice of urban history. Map. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/23/2012
Release date: 04/17/2012
Paperback - 364 pages - 978-0-307-45430-0
Open Ebook - 258 pages - 978-0-307-45431-7
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-307-91774-4
Compact Disc - 978-0-307-91773-7
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