Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Great Chicago Fire

On this day in 1871, the Great Chicago Fire started. It's also Fire Prevention Week, so here are some books about fires.


Firestorm at Peshtigo: A Town, Its People, and the Deadliest Fire in American History by Denise Gess and William Lutz. I feel obligated to point out that Chicago wasn't the biggest or deadliest or worst fire on October 7, 1871. Much of the upper Midwest burned that night, had burned all summer, Peshtigo WI being the worst. This is probably my favorite book on subject.

The Great Fire by Jim Murphy. This award winning book looks at the Chicago Fire and how it happened (it wasn't Mrs. O'Leary's cow) and how it didn't have to be as disasterous as it was.

Disasters: Natural and Man-Made Catastrophes Through the Centuries by Brenda Z. Guiberson. This book looks at 10 major disasters, what caused them, what happened, and what the short- and long-term effects were.


50 Burning Questions: A Sizzling History of Fire by Tanya Kyi, illustrated by Ross Kinnaird. Part of the 50 Questions series, this book skews a little young but is a great introduction to the history of fire and the roll it's played in the advancement of humans.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. In this future world, fireman don't put out fires-- they start them. The thing they burn the most are books-- completely forbidden objects, as well as the houses where they were hidden. When fireman Guy is caught with his own secret stash, he must run for his life.

One of the Survivors by Susan Shaw. Joey and his friend Maureen were the only ones to stand up and exit the classroom during the fire drill. They were the only ones in their class who survived the fire. And now they must deal with their guilt at surviving, and the anger and resentment that the town places on them.


The Burn Journals by Brent Runyon. Runyon tried to commit suicide by lighting himself on fire. He survived, but with 3rd degree burned on 85% of his body. As he physically recovers, he also has to examine why he tried to kill himself in the first place.

Enna Burning by Shannon Hale. Enna has the gift of fire, of creating and controlling it, and uses it to lead Bayern's army against invading forces. But she runs the risk of being consumed-- not just by the guilt, but by the fire itself. The second in the Books of Bayern series, start with The Goose Girl.

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. Billy Pilgrim is unstuck in time--something that happens after getting abducted by aliens. Despite the crazy premise, this is actually a rather autobiographical dark story that focuses largely on his time as POW in Dresden during the firebombing.

What books would you add?

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