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    So Others Might Live: A History of New York's Bravest--The FDNY from 1700 to the Present
    by Terry Golway
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Hardcover (03 September, 2002)
    list price: $27.50
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    Reviews (5)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Double Buffs delight
    Loved it! Been looking for something like it ever since. I recommend it to my "reader" friends often.As a New York City history buff I found it to be readable and enlightening. And as a fire buff, since 9/11 I can't get enough of this stuff, I found it to be well-researched and thorough. I knew what I was getting into when I read the jacket. Golway's firefighting roots make him a fan of The Bravest but I didn't mind the sentimentality because that's partially why I picked the book in the first place.A fitting tribute to working class heroes of the past 300+ years.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful History
    In these post-9/11 days there have been a number of histories of the FDNY written, but this one is my favorite.It reads like a novel, yet is packed with solid history.And while clearly an admirer of the Fire Department, the author does not get overly sentimental, which is quite easy to do.

    5-0 out of 5 stars So Others Might Live
    For someone who loves New York City and has an admiration for firefighters, this book would be a valuable addition to any library.While providing a fascinating account of the history of the FDNY, the book also gives the reader a wealth of information about the city itself.I would recommend it for firefighters, fire buffs, and any reader who is interested in a fascinating account of the Fire Department of the City of New York and the incredible men and women who have joined its ranks over the years. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0465027407
    Sales Rank: 382577
    Subjects:  1. Fire Dept    2. Fire Science    3. Fire extinction    4. Fire fighters    5. Firefighting Tactics And Strategy    6. Fires    7. History    8. History - General History    9. History: American    10. New York    11. New York (N.Y.)    12. New York (State)    13. Technology    14. United States - State & Local - General   

    Ship Ablaze : The Tragedy of the Steamboat General Slocum
    by Edward T. O'Donnell
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Hardcover (10 June, 2003)
    list price: $24.95 -- our price: $24.95
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    Reviews (47)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Horrifying Tale Spun Well
    Edward T. O'Donnell tells a horrific tale in Ship Ablaze.In a matter of minutes a steamboat full of a German-American church group went from enjoying a ride down the East River on a beautiful day towards picnic grounds to fighting for their lives as an inferno consumed the lives of over a thousand people, mainly children and women, through fire or drowning.The very life preservers themselves became instruments for the deaths of many as it dragged them straight to the bottom of the river.The author does a magnificent job of setting the scene for the tragedy but his best work comes in the description of the disaster itself.It is heartbreaking and breathtaking and impossible to pull away from.This book is a wonderful memorial to a time and event that should not ever be forgotten.

    5-0 out of 5 stars One of the deadliest disasters in New York history.
    One hears about some very familiar disasters, but I was not familiar with the General Slocum steam boat disaster.Over 1,000 people (mainly women and children) died in this disaster on the East River.O'Donnell does a superb job of detailing New York at the turn of the century and the dangers associated with steamship travel.Then he goes into great detail about the disaster and the aftermath of the sinking of the General Slocum.
    I believe O'Donnell does a fair job of detailing who failed in this disaster. The owner, USSIS, and the Captain all were to blame for this dangerous situation.The result was the decimation of a large German immigrant church community.
    O'Donnell's short chapters, and his coverage from all angles gives the reader a clear picture of the disaster.One can understand the nature of this tragedy and the effect on New York City.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Good book with some major omissions
    The story itself is well-researched and well-told, and I thoroughly enjoyed the book, but I do have a few qualms with it. The first of these is the absence of an index, which in my opinion should be absolutely mandatory for any non-fiction book. How is one to find specific references without reading or re-reading an entire chapter or the entire tome? I don't know if this is the fault of the author, publisher, or someone else, but there seems to be a veritable "index-omission" epidemic raging in publishing circles these days, and this seriously limits a book's value for research purposes. Another qualm/question is: why wasn't a complete, name-by-name list of the +/-1,300 dead, missing, and surviors included? Or a spec sheet on the Slocum itself? Such data must be in the author's possession, and it's a shame it wasn't included. It would have really rounded out the book and taken it to the next level. In the final analysis however, although the book isn't perfect, I do recommend it highly at every opportunity as it tells a fascinating and tragic tale.
    ... Read more

    Isbn: 0767909054
    Sales Rank: 98752
    Subjects:  1. 20th century    2. Fires    3. Fires and fire prevention    4. General Slocum (Steamboat)    5. History    6. History - General History    7. History: American    8. New York    9. New York (N.Y.)    10. New York (State)    11. Ships    12. Ships & Shipbuilding - Shipwrecks    13. United States - 20th Century (1900-1945)    14. United States - State & Local - General    15. United States - State & Local - Middle Atlantic    16. History / United States / State & Local   


    by David Halberstam
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Hardcover (May, 2002)
    list price: $22.95 -- our price: $15.61
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    Editorial Review

    Thirteen men from Engine 40, Ladder 35 firehouse initially responded to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001; only one survived. Located near Lincoln Center on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, the firehouse was known for its rich tradition and strong leadership. This gripping book details the actions of the 13 men on that horrific day and the heartbreaking aftermath--the search for the bodies, the efforts of their families to deal with overwhelming grief, and the guilt and conflicting emotions of the surviving members of the firehouse. The book is also about the men themselves and the tight bond and sense of duty and honor that held them together. David Halberstam does a masterful job of illustrating the inner workings of a firehouse, with its traditions, routines, and complex social structure that in many ways resembles a "vast extended second family--rich, warm, joyous, and supportive, but on occasion quite edgy as well, with all the inevitable tensions brought on by so many forceful men living so closely together over so long a period of time." He also explains why so many men choose this life despite the high risk, relatively low pay, and physical and emotional demands of the job.

    Halberstam and his family live three and a half blocks from Engine 40, Ladder 35, and he writes of these 13 men in such a loving and precise way that he could be describing members of his own clan. Deeply felt and emotional, Firehouse is a tribute to these decent, honorable, and heroic men and a celebration of their selflessness not only as firefighters but also as husbands, fathers, sons, brothers, and friends. --Shawn Carkonen ... Read more

    Reviews (30)

    5-0 out of 5 stars If you only read one book on 9/11, this should be it.
    This book is one of the most devastating things you will ever read.This is not a tale of blood and gore and the evil that men do.Rather, this is the back-story to a firehouse that responded on 9/11.You get to know the men.You get to know their humour, their temper, their personalities.Then, you get some small sense of the loss that this world has felt since FDNY lost 343 heroic firefighters that day.They were not nameless and faceless statistics, but each one was a person.Each one answered a higher calling.This book is fully deserving of your attention.

    As a side note, to my brothers in the fire service out there, keep this one away from the wife. She will cry for days.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A lasting memorial to those brave firefighters
    Expecting a well-composed book from a popular and proficient historian, it was no surprise that it was memorable!Every word, every page was profoundly interesting, whether details were sadly moving or funny, the message was clear!This is a short and meaningful read.

    As a person who was geographically distant, Colorado, from the tragedy, the horror effected the nation and me emotionally.When I learned that Pulitzer Prize winner and author Halberstam had written a book about that specific firehouse that lost 12 men, I wanted to read it.

    Once you begin reading, you easily learn who the firemen were, their decisions to become firemen, their odd quirks, their funny moments, their other jobs, their passions, and of course their family.What is moving is the strong sincere bond they share, unique friendships, caring people willing to give their time to help each other out.

    It was the talk that Joseph Ginley, whose firefighter son John Ginley died that made a profound impression.The father told them firefighting was a good life, you lived with other men in genuine camaraderie, and you ended up, almost without realizing it, having the rarest kind of friendships, ones with men who were willing to die for one another.

    I came with a strong understanding of how a firefighter truly becomes this spirit of humanity and someone willing to give up their life for you.

    On the inside cover is a memorial, the original blackboard with the names and their assignments.It's eerie. And as Halberstam begins, he shares just enough facts about the firehouse in Manhattan, it's origin and renovation.We learn the dynamics of highrise firehouses versus suburban firehouses and its firemen.

    Then, you are immersed into a personal portrayal of each firefighter.And it isn't just an account of each man, the details offer more than you bargained for.The information is weaved strategically and suttle.It's very clear that Halberstam conducted a serious number of interviews, because he got such remarkable information that doesn't come with one or two interviews, it comes for a volume of detail about a person.Upon reading these intimate details, as you delve deeper into what made this fireman, his values, friendships, faith, family, etc., you can't help but keep looking at the pictures, putting a face with the name.

    Clearly, the writing is what really made this a special account.What a warm feeling I get from these men who are strangers to me, but I learned about a "true fireman"and am reminded by what veteran fireman Ray Pfeifer said, "People think they know what we do, but they really don't know what we do." I say..people..... educate yourself here, because those faces on the back are real people, real firemen, the firemen we really don't know or understand.And when you finish this book, you will look at firemen differently........MZ RIZZ

    4-0 out of 5 stars A tribute to thirteen brave firefighters.
    Halberstam does a great job of personalizing the September 11, 2001 tragedy by the portrayal of 13 brave New York firefighters of Engine 40, Ladder 35.Twelve of these men died on that day, along with many employees of the World Trade Center and countless other firemen.Halberstam gives a short biography of these thirteen along with a history of this particular firehouse.
    This is a touching tribute to these firemen.All of them were male and most were white.Halberstam paints the positive side of all these men and makes them heroes.
    The one small criticism I have of this book is that it makes these men larger than life.They are certainly heroes for going into a dangerous area with less than good prospects of returning.
    These were men performing a dangerous job, but they were still human and had all the frailities of humans.What of the other hundreds of firemen who did not return that day?The tragedy of those other hundreds are lost in this story.This is a good book to read, but the reader has to bear in mind the other losses on that tragic day. ... Read more

    Isbn: 1401300057
    Subjects:  1. Disasters & Disaster Relief    2. Fire Dept    3. Fire Science    4. History - General History    5. New York (N.Y.)    6. Political Freedom & Security - Terrorism    7. Political Science    8. September 11 Terrorist Attacks    9. September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001    10. Sociology    11. Sociology - Urban    12. Terrorism    13. United States - 21st Century    14. World Trade Center (New York,    15. Biography & Autobiography    16. General    17. Fire fighters    18. United States    19. Death    20. New York    21. Heroes   


    3000 Degrees: The True Story of a Deadly Fire and the Men Who Fought It
    by Sean Flynn
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Hardcover (April, 2002)
    list price: $22.95
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    Reviews (18)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Realistic and compassionate.
    I really enjoyed this book.My dad was a firefighter and I thought the writer portrayed the firefighters with a tough realisim without taking away their compassion for what they do.The families stories seemed to convey not only the day to day fears that all firefighters families have but, a small sense of what they went through when the unimaginable happened to them.Overall a great read by a writer who seemed to care about the subject.

    4-0 out of 5 stars WORCESTER not WORCHESTER - Keep the H out of it
    Note to who ever wrote the Publishers Weekly review. Get a map. The second largest city in New England is Worcester Mass. not WorcHester. Those of us born and raised there pronounce the city to rhyme with mister.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Riviting
    I read this book simply because my boyfriend said he couldn't put it down. I was mesmorized by the bravery these men went gave out to fight the fire. After every page, I kept thinking to myself, "This is TRUE." I have a stronger respect for the brave fire fighters aroundt he world. Not only is this book about the fire and the fighters themselves, but it also depicts the family's devistation after the fact. Every page brought tears to my eyes. I would recommend this book to anyone, especially family's of fire fighters. Didn't want to put it down. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0446528315
    Sales Rank: 196823
    Subjects:  1. Casualities    2. Disaster Relief & Rescue Operations    3. Fire extinction    4. Fires    5. History    6. History - General History    7. History: American    8. Massachusetts    9. Reference    10. United States - State & Local - General    11. Worcester    12. Current Events / General    13. September 11 Terrorist Attacks    14. Current Events    15. American    16. Fire fighters    17. United States - 20th Century    18. New York (State)    19. Heroes   

    Report from Engine Co. 82
    by Dennis Smith
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 April, 1999)
    list price: $14.00 -- our price: $11.20
    (price subject to change: see help)
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    Reviews (32)

    5-0 out of 5 stars For those wanting a career in fire, this is step one...
    Before anyone decides to dedicate their lives to becoming a firefighter, they would be wise to start their research here.Some 30+ years after it was first published, this book still shows remarkable insight into the lives, struggles, and emotions of a professional firefighter. When I started on the road to becoming a firefighter, being a volunteer and reading Dennis Smith books asserted in my mind that my life would be wasted doing anything else.For others, this may convince you that the job is not for you.It isn't for everyone. Either way, this is a very enjoyable read and worth the time and money for anyone, not just firemen and wannabe's.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Firefighting on the mean streets
    This is an extremely well written and easy to read book.The narration draws you in and transports you to the streets to ride along with the author.You can almost smell the smoke...

    While there are many aspect of this book that are seriously dated (such as the seventies-era street slang and some of the firefighting equipment and procedures), most of this story could still be written today.This is the gritty reality of firefighting in the toughest sections of an urban center.You can feel the exhaustion and exhileration mix together as we ride through the decaying ghetto from one fire alarm to the next.What really stands out in my mind, though, is that Smith never loses his empathy for the people of the South Bronx.Even with all the abuse he and his company endure, he still understands their plight and wishes he could make their world better.

    Nothing in my experience can compare with the magnitude of serving an area like the South Bronx, but many aspects of this story still reflect my career.The commaraderie of the fire station is the same, as is the sense of duty and willingness to risk everything to save a life.This is a terrific book for anyone looking to understand what it takes to be a firefighter, especially on the busiest city streets in the country.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Bravest
    When I first read this book I was in grade school. My dad thought if I wanted to be a firefighter I might want to read this book. I sit here right know and look at the inside of the cover, which is a hardcover and there is a price tag for $4.16 from Boscov's (which is a department store).
    This book brings alive the fire service in New York City in the 1960's. This was one of the most challenging times in the New York City. During this time there were riots,a serious drug abuse problem, and politically charged agendas. But through all this the firefighters of New York City still had to provide fire protection to the citizens.
    How many people can say that they know how it feels to be going to a fire to only find yourself a target for rocks, bricks and beer bottles. The men of Engine Company 82 and Ladder 31 found themselves in the situation more then once. These men had to deal with the pain and suffering of people that they went to help, and found that children involved made the job even harder.
    Every shift they could look forward to arsons, malicious false alarms and the uncertainty of what might happen next. Did these men do this job for the money? I can say no they did not. They did it for the love of the job. That is why most firefighters do it. Most people and even some firefighters today do not realize the history and the changes that have been in the past 40 years.
    I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to reads a book that they do not want to put down. Once you pick it up, you will not put it down until you are finished. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0446675520
    Sales Rank: 27289
    Subjects:  1. Biography & Autobiography    2. Biography/Autobiography    3. Bronx (New York, N.Y.)    4. Fire Science And Technology    5. Fire departments    6. Fire extinction    7. Fire stations    8. General    9. New York    10. New York (State)    11. Sociology    12. Sociology - Urban    13. Biography & Autobiography / General   


    Firestorm at Peshtigo: A Town, Its People, and the Deadliest Fire in American History
    by Denise Gess, William Lutz
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 June, 2003)
    list price: $15.00 -- our price: $10.20
    (price subject to change: see help)
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    Reviews (25)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Forgotten American Disaster
    I bought this book, as I had never read about this disaster. The authors made it very interesting and easy to read. The book included a couple interesting maps for reference, something I always look for.

    The one message I got from this book is how far we have advanced in managing disasters since that time.The book includes discussion of common disaster elements then that are common in disasters today.

    The lack of early warning; lack of communication when the telegraph lines were burned, (no news is good news); the emergence of victims to help others, the convergence of the outside world when it became apparent the extent of the disaster are addressed in this book.

    This book covers continuity of operations/succession issues, logistics and medical aid for the thousands of walking wounded.Lastly, the event was studied by the US military to perfect incendiary attacks on populations. Hadn't heard that either but the narrative of the "firestorm" was very uncomfortable to read. Great book and I would make it mandatory reading for disaster managers.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Nature Gone Mad
    I first read the story of the Peshtigo fire in Vincent Gaddis's fortean classic, "Mysterious Lights & Fires".This only allowed a minute glimpse into this remarkable natural disaster of 1871.The authors have done an excellent job at bringing the personal stories of those that lived and died in the face of mind numbing terror.I only wish they had explored in more detail the meterological and environmental conditons in the region that led to this malestrom of fire.Social history at it best.Recommended.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Firestorm at Peshtigo-A social history
    This book is an good social history of the Peshtigo area in 1871.Given the source material that is available from that time period is an adequate narrative.It does not really talk about the fire behavior that may have occurred.I'm not sure if the authors intended to discuss fire behavior but they kept referring to "gustnados" as the explanation. Their bibliography and references include a few older references on fire behavior.If you are reading this book because of the wildland fire angle, you will be disappointed. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0805072934
    Sales Rank: 191169
    Subjects:  1. History    2. History - General History    3. History: American    4. Natural Disasters    5. U.S. History - Civil War And Reconstruction (1860-1877)    6. United States - 19th Century    7. United States - State & Local - General    8. United States Local History   


    Young Men and Fire
    by Norman Maclean
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (15 November, 1993)
    list price: $13.00 -- our price: $10.40
    (price subject to change: see help)
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    Editorial Review

    On August 5, 1949, lightning came crashing down in the vast spruce forest above Seeley Lake, Montana, and touched off a roaring blaze. As every Westerner knows, lightning means fire, but the fire that raged through Mann Gulch that day was huge--the sort that occurs only every few decades. A battery of paratrooper-firefighters, many of them fresh veterans of World War II, had been anticipating it, and even looking forward to the chance to fight a great fire. Before the day ended thirteen of those smokejumpers lay dead, their charred remains evidence that something had gone terribly wrong. Norman Maclean gives a thorough account of the incident in language not meant for the squeamish: "Burning to death on a mountainside is dying at least three times ... first, considerably ahead of the fire, you reach the verge of death in your boots and your legs; next, as you fail, you sink back in the region of strange gases and red and blue darts where there is no oxygen and here you die in your lungs; then you sink in prayer into the main fire that consumes." After August 1949, he notes, the Forest Service came to recognize that not all fires need to be fought and that fire benefits most forest ecosystems. ... Read more

    Reviews (62)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Getting to the core of the fire
    In 1949, the worst forest fire fighting tragedy in America occurred in Mann Gulch, Montana, when 13 smokejumpers lost their lives in a blowup they couldn't escape. Maclean tries to get to the heart of what happened - why some survived and 13 didn't. Apparently those that lost their lives tried to outrun the fire, which was like trying to outrun a train. Those that survived built a fire around themselves and stood their ground; when the roaring conflagration reached them, it jumped right over them, having nothing to burn around them. It's a fascinating story, and Maclean does good "detective" work in unraveling it.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Slow Burn
    I decided to read "Young Men and Fire" because "A River Runs Through It" is one of my favorite novels/movies of all time.I'm afraid that my love for Maclean's other novel artificially inflated/changed my expectations for this one, but once I adjusted to the different style, I slowly grew to love this book.

    The book is basically cut in half, with the first half being a re-telling of the story of the Mann Gulch fire, and the second half being more of an expository on how Maclean researched the facts of the event in order to tell the story.Quite honestly, I was bored with the book when I started it, despite the fact that the event was tragic and the characters were heroic.It felt more like a newspaper article than the literature I loved in "A River..."

    But, as I pushed through the story, I came to appreciate it for what it is.Mclean exudes passion for this subject, and this book is really a beautiful intersection of his prose-like writing style (it's there, if less visibly than in "A River..."), his inexplicable passion for a subject to which he had no direct connection, and basic forensic study (ala CSI TV shows.)

    Being a lover of outdoors and books that take place there, I can appreciate Mclean's felt kinship with the Smokejumpers that are the central figures in this story.I was entertained by his constant ratings and comparisons of woodsmen that enter his story, much like others debate the merits of sports figures or politicians throughout time.And that leads me to this point -- Mclean was a lover of the woods and the mountains and his brethern who shared this passion.Towards the end of his life, he found a passion that helped him to keep his mind sharp and to exert himself in the mountains he loved.The exercise was cathartic.

    Because of Mclean's passion and talent, I believe the book ends up being a great read.He brings to life the sense of invicibility that young people tend to feel, and paints a vivid picture of the tragedy that the Smokejumpers endured.His analysis in the second half is eye-opening and helped me understand how difficult it really is sometimes to piece together exactly what happened in these sorts of tragedies.Often times, not knowing what happened and why is more haunting for the families of those who died than the actual loss itself.Mclean gives everything he has to give those people an explanation.

    Mclean obviously threw himself into this book, and as soon as you get in tune with the different rhythms and flows that pulse throughout this book, you will enjoy it as much as I ended up enjoying it.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great book
    A powerful and complex book, compelling, clearly written.It covers human drama and tragedy, scientific search and discovery, all with a "you are there" in the great outdoors setting.As good a book as I have read, bar none. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0226500624
    Subjects:  1. Biography / Autobiography    2. Forest fires    3. General    4. Historical - U.S.    5. History    6. History: American    7. Mann Gulch    8. Montana    9. Natural Disasters    10. Prevention and control    11. Smokejumpers    12. Trees & Forests - General    13. United States    14. American history: postwar, from c 1945 -    15. Fire services    16. Nature / Trees    17. Social history    18. USA    19. c 1945 to c 1960   


    The Circus Fire : A True Story of an American Tragedy
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (12 June, 2001)
    list price: $14.00 -- our price: $10.50
    (price subject to change: see help)
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    Editorial Review

    As some 9,000 people watched the Wallendas begin their high-wire act on July 6, 1944, a fire started on the sidewall of the big top at the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. The tent had been waterproofed with a mixture of 6,000 gallons of white gasoline and 18,000 pounds of paraffin; common practice for circuses at the time. In minutes, the entire tent was engulfed in flames. In the rush for the exits, people were trampled and burned--some beyond recognition. In the end, 167 were dead and 487 injured, of whom 140 required hospitalization. The city of Hartford, Connecticut, would never be the same. Stewart O'Nan brings his storytelling ability to the tragedy of The Circus Fire.

    Several survivors said the one thing they will never forget about the circus fire as long as they live is the sound of the animals as they burned alive. But there were no animals.

    O'Nan interviewed dozens of witnesses and examined police reports, newspaper accounts, and court documents while researching the fire. The result is an engrossing--though agonizingly painful--account of the great fire and its aftermath. He probes the tragedy's enduring mysteries--How did the fire start? Who are the unidentified victims?Who is Little Miss 1565?--and offers up conclusions of his own. He also provides remarkable vignettes of panic, heroism, and grief: Merle Evans and the band playing "The Stars and Stripes Forever," the circus disaster march, over and over; Bill Curlee, standing atop the wild animal chute throwing trapped children to safety; the Cote sisters, who made it home safely then broke down when asked why they were back so early. O'Nan tells their stories with compassion--albeit with a slight tendency toward the macabre.

    Moving, saddening, gruesome--yet car-crash compelling--The Circus Fire is a gripping read. Highly recommended. --Sunny Delaney ... Read more

    Reviews (56)

    1-0 out of 5 stars Convoluted and totally confusing....
    Mr. O'Nan should have taken a refresher course in basic writing.His skipping and skimming and throwing to and fro people, events, etc., is downright frustrating and confuses the project.Unlike superior literary treatments (see Walter Lord's TITANIC), this book leave you with more questions than anything else and the urge to take a long, hot shower.

    4-0 out of 5 stars History brought to life
    I grew up in Connecticut, so all my life on the anniversary of the Circus Fire, articles would appear in the local newspaper but never seemed to tell the whole story of what happened afterwards in the lives of those who were touched by this tragedy.Stewart O'Nan does a fantastic job of putting together many of the pieces of this disaster and does so in an interesting and informative way.The subject of the Circus Fire was always thought-provoking, as my dad had a chance to attend the circus that day and did not go . . . .I may never have existed if he had made the trip!

    1-0 out of 5 stars A complete disappointment
    It is difficult to believe that such a slow and dull book could be written about such a compelling subject.The reviewers who have lamented the short, choppy paragraphs that irritatingly jump from one scene to another, without benefit of full explanation or connection, are correct to scorn the overall poor writing that makes up this book.I had to read some paragraphs several times and even then didn't understand what I was reading.It was nearly impossible to picture most of the action in my mind, as it was mostly just a jumbled collection of facts and anecdotes that rambled on and on and on.The description of the fire itself drags on chaotically for fifty tedious pages, which incited one yawn after another.The book lacks any sense of focus and the author uses a very poor choice of words in many instances.For example, the narrative is littered with sentences like: "She made for the east exit..."Okay, fine, but did she run, walk, crawl, hop, skip, jump, or fly to the east exit?I just don't know what to picture there.The word "made" says nothing descriptive and is therefor about the worst word that could have been chosen.This type of problem occurs on every page of the book.I haven't read anything else the author has written, so I hate to be so critical.I wonder, however, why his editor didn't send his manuscript back to him with thousands of suggestions.I felt as if I was reading a very hastily-prepared early draft.I have read many gripping books about disasters and survival situations.This just isn't one of them.Compare "The Circus Fire" to "Into Thin Air," "Heart of the Sea," "Batavia's Graveyard," or "Ordeal by Hunger" and you'll understand what I mean. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0385496850
    Subjects:  1. 20th century    2. Circus    3. Connecticut    4. Fires    5. General    6. Hartford    7. Hartford Circus Fire, Hartford, Conn., 1944    8. History    9. History - General History    10. History: World    11. United States - State & Local - General    12. History / General   


    The Winecoff Fire: The Untold Story of America's Deadliest Hotel Fire
    by Sam Heys, Allen B. Goodwin
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Hardcover (01 April, 1993)
    list price: $19.95
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    Reviews (12)

    5-0 out of 5 stars MY GRANDFATHERS PICTURE
    During the Winecoff Fire, Newton Elmer Pittman, my grandfather (who was a Fireman) was taken to the hospital 3 different times for smoke inhalation.The first time, he left the hospital AMA to return to the fire, the second time the hospital kept his boots and the 3rd time, the hospital kept his clothing and undergarments.You will see him on a ladder crossing to the hotel and the joke was that all he had on at the time was a borrowed fireman's raincoat with nothing underneath.He still would not quit.We bought the book for that particular photograph!He will always be my hero!.

    5-0 out of 5 stars MY GRANDFATHERS PICTURE
    During the Winecoff Fire, My grandfather (who was a Fireman) was taken to the hospital 3 different times for smoke inhalation.The first time, he left the hospital AMA to return to the fire, the second time the hospital kept his boots and the 3rd time, the hospital kept his clothing and undergarments.You will see him on a ladder crossing to the hotel and the joke was that all he had on at the time was a borrowed fireman's raincoat with nothing underneath.He still would not quit.We bought the book for that particular photograph!He will always be my hero!.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Always Think Twice
    The vivid descriptions of the fate of so many people trapped or killed by this fire made it difficult to put this book down.These people were like you and me.I will never check into a hotel again without looking for the nearest exits.... just in case.The last two chapters of the book were a bit harder to follow, as they didn't seem to mesh with the style of the earlier chapters.Perhaps it was because the details of the fire were so gripping that is was almost a letdown once the story line switched to the attempt to solve the mystery of the fire's origin.Regardless, this is a good, quick read that will make you think twice before you check in to a hotel or high-rise on your next trip. ... Read more

    Isbn: 1563520699
    Sales Rank: 602568
    Subjects:  1. 20th century    2. Atlanta    3. Atlanta (Ga.)    4. Fire Safety And Prevention    5. Fires    6. Georgia    7. History    8. History - General History    9. History: American    10. United States - State & Local    11. Winecoff Hotel (Atlanta, Ga.)   

    To Sleep with the Angels : The Story of a Fire (Illinois)
    by David Cowan
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (25 October, 1998)
    list price: $14.95 -- our price: $10.17
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    Reviews (69)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great book on a terrible tragedy
    This really is the only book about the Our Lady of the Angels fire (except Michele McBride's understandably bitter personal account), and it is quite well-written, fair, and reasonably complete.And extremely emotional.I can't remember ever reading a book which so saddened and touched me.I can't really add anything to what the other reviewers have said either, except that I wish the book had footnotes, sources and was a bit more in depth.I would also recommend the PBS documentary Angels Too Soon and www.olafire.com, an extremely detailed and valuable website.

    On December 1, 1958, a tragic fire swept through a Chicago Catholic School, killing ninety-five people, mostly young students.Although the fire received international attention at first, it was soon forgotten by most and dissapeared from the national conciousness.

    'To Sleep With The Angels' tells the complete story of this fire.The first portion describes the fire and the immediate aftermath.Middle chapters examine the search for the cause (arson).The last third or so looks at how the survivors adjusted to life after the disaster and what became of them.

    In many ways I feel the last section, dealing with reflections, to be the best.The authors tell how the survivors were told to 'forget the event' and not talk about it. The mental suppression had its harmful effects, as always.The Chicago neighborhood broke up and became another victim of the fire.Only recently have many felt free to discuss their experiences.I hope the authors will devote their efforts to writing about other famous disasters in the future.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Every emotion comes out with this book
    This is perhaps the most heartbreaking book I have ever read.It takes very little time in getting to the fire.A variety of factors (an old school building, ignorance of the blaze, very disciplined students, teachers not realizing the danger, absurd school fire policies, and incorrect information given to the Chicago Fire Department) led to this tragedy.The book gives perspectives from surviving students, teachers, priests, parents, firemen, policemen, and journalists.There are many disturbing passages and a few pictures that just took my breath away (among those a firemen carrying a deceased boy).It is hard to believe that this fire back in 1958 is still "unsolved".The end of the book tells of two suspects and how the Catholic Church stonewalled the investigation.The book also does a great job of telling about the many consequences of the fire- some felt years later.

    Although most of the book can be gut-wrenching there are moments of triumph as well.Many firemen and citizens are heralded for their bravery and quick thinking.The book also tells the tragic tale of the school janitor who saved many lives yet was later considered a suspect and his life virtually destroyed.

    This book really came to life when I saw a PBS documentary about the fire.Most of the people in the book are featured. ... Read more

    Isbn: 156663217X
    Sales Rank: 157490
    Subjects:  1. 20th century    2. Chicago    3. Chicago (Ill.)    4. Elementary    5. Elementary schools    6. Fires    7. Fires and fire prevention    8. History    9. History - General History    10. Illinois    11. True Crime    12. United States - 20th Century/50s    13. United States - State & Local - General    14. History / United States / State & Local   


    The Texas City Disaster, 1947
    by Hugh W. Stephens
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 April, 1996)
    list price: $18.95 -- our price: $12.89
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    Reviews (7)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Little Known Event
    I never read about this event in any of my history books. This story of events grips the reader or at least me and had me questioning how things could go so bad. It does not really touch you on an emotional level but more on an intellectual one. The information is all there and is told in matter-of-fact prose.It does not really editorialize and that is what I liked about it.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Thorough, but neither personal nor exciting.
    This is a horrible disaster which needs to be known to all of us. As far as facts and figures, causes and blames, go, the book is thorough. What it is NOT is exciting or dramatic. I have read lots of disaster fiction and nonfiction, and what I find lacking in this book is the personal element--most such books DO include some of the many personal dramas which are part of such a major event. Lacking these, the book does not "touch" one the way it should. Similarly, the lack of personal histories weakens the drama inherent in such an event.

    Certainly, read the book for the facts. But do not expect gripping drama.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A look in the mirror
    Growing up on the upper Texas coast, this story was a staple of our childhood. We all knew the reason for the anchor at the entrance to the Texas City Dyke and the destruction that was caused as a result of the explosion of the Grandcamp and later the High Flyer. I worked at the Monsanto plant for a time after it was sold to Sterling Chemical, and the anniversary of that day is something everyone there takes very seriously.

    This book explores the reasons why this tragedy happened and the response of authorities under tremendous pressure. If you are unfamiliar with the tragedy, Hugh Stevens does a great job of walking you through the events leading up to the initial explosion of the Grandcamp and the subsequent explosion of the High Flyer.

    This book should be required reading for everyone who lives/works in an industrial area, local authorities and government officials. While reading this, though, I realized that this type of tragedy is not relegated to the past. Something like this can happen again, even with the safety precautions. No industrial town is immune to this type of tragedy... ... Read more

    Isbn: 029277723X
    Sales Rank: 321906
    Subjects:  1. 20th century    2. Disasters    3. Fires    4. History    5. History - General History    6. History: American    7. Texas    8. Texas City    9. Texas City (Tex.)    10. United States - 20th Century (1900-1945)    11. United States - State & Local - General   


    Tinder Box: The Iroquois Theatre Disaster 1903 (Iroquois Theater) (Illinois)
    by Anthony P. Hatch
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Hardcover (01 February, 2003)
    list price: $25.00 -- our price: $16.50
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    Reviews (4)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Human Drama
    With extraordinary thoroughness and an obvious love of his subject, Anthony Hatch makes vivid the story of Chicago's Iroquois Theatre fire of 1903.

    With eerie parallels to the Titanic disaster, the Iroquois' programs boasted that the theater was "Absolutely Fireproof"-- but everyone involved seemed to think somebody else had done whatever was necessary to make that claim a reality.

    The most deadly theater fire in U.S. history, the event is heartbreaking to read about, but Hatch has ferreted out the many human stories of the victims, survivors, reporters, firefighters, theater managers, and politicians who were involved, and found heroes as well as villains in this tragedy.

    In spite of the lessons learned and laws changed as a result of this terrible loss, Hatch's research shows that many modern theaters repeat some of the careless mistakes of the Iroquois.Everyone who frequents public buildings would be well-advised to read this fascinating story and take its lessons to heart.

    5-0 out of 5 stars How and Why ADisaster Happened
    In an age when government wants to regulate nearly every aspect of our lives, it seems incredible that the Iroquois Theater disaster could have even happend.So that the reader may understand the how and why of it, author Hatch has provided us with fine introductory chapters concerning the theater business of the day and how it operated, the political realities of Chicago (and elsewhere)at the time, the physical aspects of how fires were fought, and how the combination brought about this disaster.Without this information, the book would be far less informing than it is.With it, it becomes a fascinating, horrific look at a disaster that didn't need to happen.
    This book is excellent reading and reminds us all that we forget the lessons of the Iroquois Theater at our peril.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Slow moving
    This book takes eight chapters to get into the fire
    itself.It has a large amount of information about the
    Theater Trust organization that is not necessary to the
    story. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0897335147
    Sales Rank: 452254
    Subjects:  1. 1875-    2. 20th century    3. Chicago    4. Chicago (Ill.)    5. Fire, 1903    6. Fires    7. General    8. History    9. History - General History    10. History: American    11. Illinois    12. Iroquois Theater (Chicago, Ill    13. Iroquois Theater (Chicago, Ill.)    14. United States - 20th Century    15. United States - 20th Century (1900-1945)    16. United States - State & Local - General   


    The Great Fire of London: In That Apocalyptic Year, 1666
    by Neil Hanson, Neil Dreadful Judgement Hanson
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Hardcover (15 August, 2002)
    list price: $27.95
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    Reviews (8)

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Dramatic Read
    There's a touch of the novel about this book, but in a good way. The author 'fills in' what certain characters were thinking.This is a good thing; it adds reality to the facts of what happened.The book covers the time from the start of the fire to the ending of it, how the people reacted, and he gives a very nice chapter about fires in general, how a fire of this size behaves.Overall, the book seems very historically accurate and brings to life how miserable an event the Great Fire of London must've been.

    I always thought that the Great Fire was the reason there was no longer any Plague in London, but the author gives good reason why this is probably not the case.

    I enjoy books about Restoration England and this was not a disappointment.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Maps
    To answer the query of a reviewer below, there are maps on pages 61, 77 and 109 showing the progress of the fire.The book also has many contemporary illustrations.

    This is an exciting book, revealing just how fair and how foul the human character can reveal itself in times of disaster.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Where's the map?
    The Great Fire of London by Neil Hanson traces the progress of the conflagration street by street, building by building on all its fronts. Unfortunately the publishers did not include any useful maps so the reader could follow the progress. This oversight detracts fatally from Hanson's exciting and dramatic narrative.

    Hanson does not give a proper examination of the long term effects of the fire. His examination of short terms effects is cursory. The book ends with a discussion of pyromania.

    The Great Fire of London is enjoyable (what a complement to give a disaster), but not completely satisfying. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0471218227
    Sales Rank: 206133
    Subjects:  1. 17th century    2. Europe - Great Britain - General    3. Great Britain - History - Tudor And Stuart (1485-1714)    4. Great Fire, London, England, 1    5. Great Fire, London, England, 1666    6. History    7. History - General History    8. History Of Individual Cities    9. History: World    10. London (England)    11. Modern - 17th Century    12. British & Irish history: c 1500 to c 1700    13. London, Greater London    14. Social impact of disasters    15. c 1600 to c 1700   

    The Great Chicago Fire and the Myth of Mrs. O'Leary's Cow
    by Richard F. Bales
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Hardcover (09 October, 2002)
    list price: $45.00 -- our price: $45.00
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    Reviews (4)

    5-0 out of 5 stars FASCINATING!
    Dick Bales has covered every possible base in getting to the bottom of The Great Chicago Fire.With this event happening 130+ years ago, most people don't realize the devastation that this fire caused.The illustrations, photos and other research documents bring it into perspective on what may have really happened.I am sure many have been taught in school the myth of Mrs. O'Leary and her cow, but this book blows that idea out of the water!This should become required reading in every school so the truth may finally be revealed.A++++++

    5-0 out of 5 stars Superbly detailed, tightly argued, and convincing
    This work is simply superb!It is exhaustively researched, well-organized, tightly argued, beautifully illustrated, and entirely convincing.It covers virtually every feature of the fire, the resulting botched investigation, and the era's social contexts.An outstanding model of research, analysis, and writing.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Finally some justice for the cow!
    Very detailed and informative book about "Therest of the story." The author not only offers his version of the facts of the case, but also gives one an understanding of the politics and social mood of the period in which the fire took place. The photographs and drawings are terrific. There are few, if any, unanswered questions after reading this book. It's worth the money, I would say. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0786414243
    Sales Rank: 93210
    Subjects:  1. Chicago (Ill.)    2. Great Fire, Chicago, Ill., 187    3. Great Fire, Chicago, Ill., 1871    4. History    5. History - General History    6. History: American    7. Illinois - Local History    8. To 1875    9. U.S. History - Civil War And Reconstruction (1860-1877)    10. United States - Civil War    11. United States - State & Local - General   


    Triangle: The Fire That Changed America
    by David Von Drehle
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Hardcover (01 August, 2003)
    list price: $25.00 -- our price: $16.50
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    Reviews (36)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Good historical analysis
    One of the questions my students always ask me is, "When did the Democratic and Republican Parties switch constituencies?" "Triangle: The Fire that Changed America" is a journalistic/historical hybrid of a book that gives a good answer to this question.
    "Triangle" is a gripping book for most of its pages. It tells the story of the disastrous fire in a journalistic style that occasionally gets tedious but for the most part dramatizes and humanizes the event so as to make it more meaningful and interesting. Very often books written in this style sacrifice significance for drama and substance for style. However, Von Drehle does not do this. He carefully links the background of the fire to various progressive reformers and movements within the progressive movement. He goes from tenement houses to Fifth Avenue mansions. He further goes on to suggest that the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, and the resulting political turmoil, is one cause of the shift of the Democratic party from a party that served its rural constituents and used its urban constituents to a party that actively challenged big business and pushed for urban reform. He connects Tammany Hall politics to the New Deal. He suggests that the fire did more than change the laws about fire safety; he suggests it paved the way for the Democratic coalition that would finally develop in the 1930s. His logic is compelling as is his book.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Part of History most never knew of
    Just off Wahsington Square the building still stands.A building seen by millions on a daily basis but so few know the tragidy that occured in this building now owned by NYU.A disaster that never should have happened. A fire and tragic loss of life that was completely proventable...yet it happened.This is a fantastic piece of history.Caused by the owners of the shirtwaste factory, their immigrant employees, young girls and women, worked as slaves in this time when labor laws were few if any.A major part of New York and U.S history.The aftermath was the beginning of labor laws that effect us today.No longer can you be locked in your building!That is just the start.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Good History Lesson---Good Read
    I enjoyed this book very much though at times it drags a bit.It seems a little disjointed in places.I found it hard to follow the actual events that transpired with the actual fire----just my opinion.The political background was very interesting to me and probably the most intellectually beneficial part of the story.Some chapters were very gripping, some a bit tedious. The author draws, of course, on known information so sometimes there is more background on characters than I wanted---the lawyers for example----and less info in victims.

    In all, it's a great book and a good read but be prepared to slog through some detail.

    ... Read more

    Isbn: 0871138743
    Sales Rank: 99390
    Subjects:  1. 20th century    2. Clothing factories    3. Corporate & Business History - General    4. Fire, 1911    5. Fires    6. History    7. History - General History    8. History Of Specific Companies    9. Labor    10. Labor & Industrial Relations - General    11. Labor laws and legislation    12. Military    13. New York    14. New York (State)    15. Safety measures    16. Social Conditions Of Labor    17. Triangle Shirtwaist Company    18. United States - 20th Century    19. United States - 20th Century (1900-1945)    20. United States - State & Local - General   


    Disaster! The Great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 1906
    by Dan Kurzman
    Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
    Hardcover (April, 2001)
    list price: $25.00 -- our price: $6.99
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    Reviews (16)

    2-0 out of 5 stars Dreadful
    I am a former history major at Stanford University, a Bay Area native who now lives in the Midwest, someone who reveres San Francisco history.I have been meaning to write this review for a long time.The NY Times was brutal in its review of this book, which prompted Mr. Kurtzman to write back, attacking the reviewer, who called this book completely episodic.It is that and then some.I have not read Mr. Kurtzman's other books, but after this effort, I'm not likely to.This book is just one lazy, meandering vignette after another, with no structure, theme, or cohesion.Even the title, "Disaster", is a blatant use of Glady's Hansen's brilliant, seminal work "Denial of Disaster."I knew I was in trouble when I read the credits in the front: Kurzman refers to the great historian Malcolm Barker, author of Three Fearful Days, as "Malcolm Walker."The use of other people's structure and story lines is appalling.In their ground-breaking 1971 book The San Francisco Earthquake, Max Witts and Thomas Gordon open with a description of Enrico Caruso coming to San Francisco, fighting with his co-star, escaping Mount Vesuvius, and lines like "Caruso decided he would need more protection than the insurance policy...He bought himself a revolver and fifty rounds of ammunition...By the time the train reached San Francisco, Caruso had become a passable gun handler."Now look what Kurtzman does on Page One. After telling us about Caruso's fight with his costar, his escaping Mount Vesuvius, etc.; he writes "And so he purchased a pistol and fifty bullets...And while crossing the western plains, he spent his time learning how to load the gun and draw it with a flick of his wrist." Kurzman virtually duplicates the opening chapter from someone else's book, then proceeds to tell us the almost identical tales of the identical characters -- Abe Ruef, Dennis Sullivan --as exist in the Gladys Hansen and Thomas/Witt books.I could not find a single fact that was new and insightful, other than Kurzman's claim that 10,000 died -- a statement he fails to corroborate -- though all of us who have studied it know that the official death count of about 500 is a huge lie.I have read virtually every book on this subject, and this is emphatically the worst.Try "Denial of Disaster", or "Three Fearful Days", or "The Great San Francisco Earthquake, or even James Dalessandro's marvelous novel, 1906, which paints an extraordinary picture of how the military ran about shooting suspected looters and dynamiting the place to oblivion.I tried to find something redeeming in "Disaster."I fear that only its name fit that effort.

    4-0 out of 5 stars "A blazing red. . . ahot red, a consuming red"
    Disaster!is a well-written, fast-moving look at the experience of many lives (famous and otherwise) in the face of one of the greatest disasters in U.S. history. The book looks at the unconventional frontier spirit of California's greatest city of the time, spoiled by the graft and corruption of past business and political figures and the current administration of Mayor Schmitz and city boss Abraham Reuf, and tarnished in reputation by the red light districts of Barbary Coast among others, yet loved dearly by most of its residents. It would burn for 74 hours and then, after it burned itself out, mercilessly came the rain. The spirit of optimism was shaken by the experience, but was definitely not destroyed as the city celebrated its rebuilding only nine years later.

    The book reveals the good and the bad brought out of people by the disaster.As one witness stated, "I had a Catholic Priest kneel by me in the park...and prayed to the holy Father for relief for my pain and ease to my body.I saw a poor woman, barefoot, told to 'Go to Hell and be glad of it,' for asking for a glass of milk at a dairyman's wagon; she had in her arms a baby with its legs broken" (pg. 149).In many cases, the primitive frontier life returned to the Bay just following the quake.Some militiamen took Mayor Schmitz's proclamation that looters should be shot on sight to the extreme, killing many civilians for trivial matters.In other cases, neighbors of different ethnic and social groups came together-made equal by their loss.One survivor's memory of a free spree at a candy store before it was to be dynamited in an attempt to stop the fire's path carried with him eighty years (pg. 138).

    The people whose stories are told include a 10-year old future Major League pitcher who searches frantically for the love of his life; a couple separated and presumed dead by neighbors yet never giving up the search for each other; another couple who insisted on going ahead with their wedding plans despite the chaos around them; the renown prima donna tenor Enrico Caruso who thought he had avoided disaster by postponing plans to go to Naples just before the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius; Mayor Schmitz who the very day of the earthquake was to go to a hearing for a case of corruption against him; the head of the Bank of Italy (later the Bank of America) risking life and limb to save his customer's deposits from his doomed building-the list goes on.

    The stories are told sporadically in 41 short chapters (some as short as three pages).Some of the stories are almost too spread out.The story of actor John Barrymore's experience, for example, was introduced on page 13 and did not continue until page 166.This style makes it a little difficult to follow at times, but I think it is still better than completing one story and then moving on to the next making the book painfully redundant. Each story is unique enough to jog the memory after a few lines.The book has source notes, a list of people whose experiences are described, a map of the San Francisco area, and a lengthy bibliography.I enjoyed reading this book and recommend it to anyone interested in the subject.

    4-0 out of 5 stars An Interesting, Anecdotal History
    "Disaster!" is an interesting, anecdotal account of the lives of those who lived through the Great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 1906.The characters are many, both major an minor.After all of the attention to the September 11 attacks, it is worthwhile to step back and take a look at a natural, and even more destructive, disaster.

    Among the major characters are Mayor Eugene Schmitz, Gen. Franklin Funston and Acting Fire Chief John Dougherty.

    Mayor Eugene Schmitz was a former concert violinist and concert conductor who had come to power at the head of the Union Labor Party.Although committed to the promotion of the cause ofLabor, he used his power to direct graft to himself and his friends. In the earthquake he saw an opportunity to win support which might keep him out of a welldeserved prison term.

    Gen. Franklin Funston, deputy commander of the army garrison at the Presidio, orderedhis troops into the city to render assistance and to restore order.By force of his troops, Funston became, for a few days, the virtual dictator of San Francisco.

    Assistant Fire Chief John Dougherty succeeded to the head of the SFFD upon the death of Chief Dennis Sullivan early in the crisis.It was he who rallied the fire fighters through the four days of seemingly hopeless struggle against the all consuming fire.

    Amadeo Peter Gianini, founder of the Bank of Italy, which would, in time, become the current Bank of America, assured his place in history and the future of the Bank, by moving the vault contents to his home before the bank was destroyed by the fire.

    Although the earthquake did much of the damage, even more was done by the resulting fires.Fires started by upset stoves and broken gas pipes spread and merged until most of the city was in ashes.Hampered by lack of water due to water mains broken by the fire, the heroic fire department had little other than dynamite with which to fight the fire until its progress toward the shoreline and the arrival of naval fire fighting vessels made brine available.

    Police and troops used force and coercion to obtain the labor necessary to clear debris and render aid. Unfortunately, the troops also shot many innocent citizens and helped themselves to a liberal share of the booty.

    Most of all, "Disaster!" is the story of people, ordinary or famous, who made their way through the chaos.The strong point of this book is less the revelation of a unified story than the interweaving of a collection of individual anecdotes.Enrico Caruso had canceled a performance in Naples due to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, only to perform in San Francisco the night before the earthquake.San Franciscans fled their homes, married and gave birth and did so many other things while their world crashed around them.Ultimately, San Francisco survived and rose like the Phoenix to create a city greater than any they had enjoyed before.Read, enjoy and be inspired. ... Read more

    Isbn: B00007CWQL
    Sales Rank: 380329
    Subjects:  1. Earthquakes    2. California    3. San Francisco    4. History    5. 20th century    6. History - General History    7. United States - State & Local - General    8. United States - 20th Century (1900-1945)    9. Earthquakes & Volcanoes    10. General    11. Nature    12. Bargain   


    Jumping Fire: A Smokejumper's Memoir of Fighting Wildfire
    by Murry A. Taylor, Murray A. Taylor
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (14 June, 2001)
    list price: $14.00 -- our price: $10.50
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    Editorial Review

    To most of us, the smokejumping world is as alien as Mars or the deep seabed. Yet for Murry Taylor--as for many other Alaskan smokejumpers--it's not just an annual summer job, it's his heart's blood and life's core. He, with all the smokejumpers, strains yearly to achieve the three-mile qualifying run in the requisite 22.5 minutes or under, his physical pain superceded by the fearsome anxiety that he might not make it, that he might never again do what sounds more like a nightmare than a cherished dream: parachute repeatedly from 3,000 feet out of small planes into searing fires.

    Taylor is 50 and has been smokejumping since 1965. Jumping Fire, his first book, focuses on one particularly incendiary summer in 1991, from April 29 to September 24, recording the day-to-day minutiae of an Alaskan smokejumper (including the tale of that summer's doomed love affair) while interspersing the narrative with memories accumulated from his nearly three decades of smokejumping and stories by and about his colorful colleagues.

    The writing is vivid and immediate. Taylor clarifies the workings of parachute drogue release handles, Stevens connections, and cut-away clutches, but he doesn't inundate us with alienating terminology. The technical details are explained as they come up in the many scenes and anecdotes that shape the book. There are stories of jumps that ended in strangulation and multiple fractures and jumps that ended more comically, with the hapless jumper planted deep in a puddle of duck excrement, or landing on top of a moose. The guys rib each other mercilessly, perform their preflight gear checks religiously, and come to the assistance of their jump partners with a dedication that is inspiring.

    The beauty of Alaska infuses Taylor's narrative. He describes the miraculous shift from winter to summer, with willow trees and red alders budding, massive plates of ice shattering, and the sunset-sunrise specials that last all night with the same care that's devoted to his scenes of blazing trees and scorched hills. By the time he pens the epilogue, dated December 1999, Taylor has become the oldest active smokejumper in the field's 60-year history and is trying to decide whether to sign up for the coming season. Should he choose to finally retire, he could always take up writing full-time. He's a natural. --Stephanie Gold ... Read more

    Reviews (47)

    5-0 out of 5 stars It was the best of times; it was the worst of times
    Jumping Fire is one of the best books I have ever read in my life.Looking at the front cover, the basic story of the book is simple to figure out; the book is a memoir that follows Smoke Jumper Murry Taylor though a season of firefighting.Most of the action takes place in Alaska, but part of the book is spent in the Pacific Northwest as well.

    The story flows together with the grace and beauty of a world-class composer.The writing is extraordinarily well articulated and the stories are told in vivid detail.The author's writing painted remarkable pictures in my mind that rivaled any motion picture I have ever seen.The author's writing created the same emotions in me that he was feeling at the time.It really felt as if I was seeing the world through the author's eyes.I cannot put into words how well this story is told.I can not give the author enough credit.

    The book was a roller coaster of emotions; the book made me laugh, it made me cry in parts, and it always had me on the edge of my seat.This is not a book that covers wilderness firefighting in general.It is one season, with one particular person who was a Smoke Jumper.The book contains numerous amusing stories, such as how the author got the name "Old Leathersack" and the story of the fuel pod dropping out of the plane and re-igniting a fire that was under control.There were stories of sheer terror such as when the Smoke Jumpers almost got consumed in a fire, and "lost" several people, not knowing if they were dead or alive and the black bear that invaded the camp (which I thought was funny personally, but I'm sure it was terrifying at the time).There was also Sally, the love element of the book.I think Sally helped break up the book, changing the story slightly, while giving an element to the book that everyone can relate to.

    Some reviewers have said that this book is full of testosterone.I agree, but this is not a bad thing.Some "literary classics" are filled with testosterone and manliness (for example, read Chushingura, written in 1748).

    I would highly recommend this book for anyone looking for an adventure.While the topic seems exotic, there are topics in the book that everyone can relate to (anyone who has been in love, felt the isolating loneliness of a long business trip away from loved ones, anyone who feels the need to put their life on the line for reasons others feel are meaningless, or someone who knows the feeling of looking over a gorgeous Alaskan meadow miles from nowhere).Initially, the length of the book seems intimidating, but it is a fast and enjoyable read.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Essential wildland fire reading
    This is the best wildland firefighting book I have read.It really captures the best, worst, and day-to-day of working on forest fires--much more so than any other account I have seen. I also enjoyed the window into firefighting in Alaska--what outstanding experiences!

    Murray has a knack for relaying his stories in an unpretentious and accessible manner that I hope translates as well to those outside of fire as inside it.I always recommend it as essential reading material to those new to wildland fire, or to those considering it.

    Murray--I know you have other stories to share, waiting to read more.Thanks for the great start.

    5-0 out of 5 stars It's HIS story and he tells it like he lived it...
    Bravo, Mr. Taylor!A friend suggested this book and I've got all the nurses at my hospital wanting to read it now.It was fabulous AND well-written.Looking forward to your next one!Keep up the great work!"SAM" ... Read more

    Isbn: 0156013975
    Subjects:  1. Anecdotes    2. Biography / Autobiography    3. Biography/Autobiography    4. Natural Disasters    5. Nature    6. Personal Memoirs    7. Smokejumpers    8. Smokejumping    9. Taylor, Murry A    10. Trees & Forests - General    11. United States    12. Wildfires   


    Fire on the Mountain: The True Story of the South Canyon Fire
    by John N. Maclean
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Hardcover (06 October, 1999)
    list price: $24.00 -- our price: $16.32
    (price subject to change: see help)
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    Editorial Review

    Colorado and its neighboring states battle thousands of wildfires every year, scrub and sagebrush blazes often ignited by lightning strikes in the dry, hot days of summer. A vast, intertwined firefighting infrastructure combining local resources with agencies like the Forest Service and the BLM, reacts to these flare-ups as if going to war--and in theory, the coordination and communication ensures that fires are fought in the most efficient and safe manner possible. But while most wildfires in Colorado end up costing just over $60,000 on average with no loss of life, the catastrophic South Canyon fire of 1994 burned for 10 days, at the ultimate cost of $4.5 million and the lives of 14 firefighters. OSHA would later describe the coordinated action flatly as a "management failure," and concurrent investigations would reveal a tangled web of jealous rivalries, bureaucratic bungling, and severe morale problems. (One of the early on-scene supervisors would later tell investigators, "Leadership in this state sucks.")

    John Maclean (son of Norman Maclean, who wrote both A River Runs Through It and an award-winning account of Montana's deadly 1949 Mann Gulch fire) skillfully unfolds that summer's foreboding blow-by-blow. Fire on the Mountain weaves together a tense narrative of almost cinematic action, starring ballsy cowboy smokejumpers, frustrated federal middle managers, seasoned "hotshots" flown in like commandos, pissed-off tanker pilots, and well-intentioned but spin-wary politicians. Maclean's well-sketched personalities bring the action on the ground convincingly to life--and knowing up front that many of his main characters won't survive South Canyon makes this tragic tale that much more compelling. --Paul Hughes ... Read more

    Reviews (36)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Blowout!
    It started with dry lightning storm starting 40 new fires in the Grand Junction District with 5000 lightning strikes on Storm King Mountain before the fire and a total of 9,000 strikes total.

    The BLM case is that other fires threatening homes required resource immediately and the South Canyon fire was not number one on the priority list; furthermore, BLM relied on County Helicopter support and availability from Western Slope Fire Coordination Center.The author tells about a tactic used by Blume where Blume would travel to Western Slope Fire Coordination Center identified which helicopters were on the pad, return to office, and place a call for the resource; the resource could not be denyed; games people play. What was needed to prevent such games was a join network of State and Fed with a central command hierarchy that could give stronger coordination during a crisis.

    Therefore, it is logically that criticism would surface directing its anger at unclear procedures between state and federal agencies delayed deployment and usage of firefighting resources like failure to by the state too put out the fire because it had not cross its zone. Furthermore, criticism centers on these delays causing the small Storm King fire to expand from 30 acres to 50 acres to a crisis.When the smoke jumpers arrived at the fire scene they were startled at the size of the fire, however their "can do" attitude may have contributed to this underestimation of the problem.Brains are critical to fire survival and not just brawn.Smoke jumper could not be expected to back down from their jobs. Therefore, management must be held accountable for the disaster and their failure to recognized a crisis emerging and don't point the finger at the smoke jumpers. The reviewing commission says, "Twelve of the 18 Watch Out Situations were not recognized, or proper action was not taken" indicating that the firefighting crew was careless.

    The smoke jumpers, BLM/Forrest service misjudgment could have been avoided by putting out the fire sooner.Immediate plane drops of retardant and helicopter support could have contributed significantly. Red mud retard was delivered by plane too late. The difficult wind currents made flyovers difficult caused by sudden drops in air pressure threatening to put the plane wing into the mountain.

    Lack of immediate support delayed blue hat crews from arriving at the fire sight. Good black areas were too far from the fighting crews and super human efforts by the blue hats was not enough; the second group were able to power out to I-70 into safety.

    "On July of 1994 had been a drought year and a time of low humidity.The fuels were extremely dry and susceptible to rapid and explosive spread.None of the groups recognized the dense oak spread as a potential for a blowup.A blow up is the perfect combination of fuel, high winds, and specific terrain topology.Cucou was monitoring the weather conditions on July 6: he predicted a cold front with winds of 45 mph passing through the fire zone around 3:30-4:00 pm.The weather information came in advance but did not trigger and evacuation. "A major blowup did occur on July 6 beginning at 4:00 p.m. Maximum rates of spread of 18 mph and flames as high as 200 to 300 feet made escape by firefighters extremely difficult."

    On the west side the fire crossed the original fireline so BLM/Forest service started a second fireline further downhill on the east side of the ridge.

    "At 3:20 p.m. a dry cold front moved into the fire area. As winds and fire activity increased, the fire made several rapid runs with 100-flame lengths within the existing burn. At 4:00 p.m. the fire crossed the bottom of the west drainage and spread up the drainage on the west side. It soon spotted back across the drainage to the east side beneath the firefighters and moved onto steep slopes and into dense, highly flammable Gambel oak. Within seconds a wall of flame raced up the hill toward the firefighters on the west flank fireline. Failing to outrun the flames, 12 firefighters perished. Two helitack crew-members on top of the ridge also died when they tried to outrun the fire to the northwest. The remaining 35 firefighters survived by escaping out the east drainage or seeking a safety area and deploying their fire shelters."

    The smoke jumper elite were burned, a forbidden taboo; their story shows their incredible determination to survive; they lived their on the edge and lives with each other represented a close family bonds; the Storm King blowup was similar to the Mann Gulch blowup and no correlation translated to warn against a repeat occurrence; McKay was a hero; the escape routes were too long and steep with the worst part of the path achieving a 55 degree incline as the blue hat pace dropped to 1 per hour as the fire increased its velocity to 5 miles per hour; "the Prineville Interagency Hotshot Crew (out-of state-blue hats) was not briefed on local conditions, fuels, or fire weather forecasts before being sent to the South Canyon fire."; carry tools and equipment on the escape route reduced the pace and every second made the difference between reaching the ridge and death.

    The book is captivating.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Still Learning
    Great reporting, decent literature although granted, few of us will ever match his father.
    I know/knew many of the principals on this stage and what struck me was how well he captured them. Over and over, I'd read of another friend and easily picture them saying or doing what was in print, but now became very real.
    I'm amazed by how much I missed after the official report and talking with some of those that were there. Mr. MacLean's book has rounded my education well. My oldest started fire fighting four years ago and I required reading of the report and this book so that he would understand the multiple levels that mistakes are made at.
    To those that complain about faultfinding; how much fault has been found with "Fire on the Mountain"? Have there been any lawsuits, settlements or retractions? If none, then please list flaws so we can judge the validity of disputed items.
    The only major flaw I saw in this book was failure to deal aggressively with the two jumpers who were not carrying fire shelters. Should have been at least a few pages devoted to that.
    There is a huge reason for this book. The failing of management to report on and effectively deal with management's errors. This book fills part of that void.
    Mr. MacLean, would you please do a book on Los Alamos and the Cerro Grande Fire? I was there for a couple weeks. The mistakes of the prescribed burn that got away would only be an appetizer to leads us to the corruption/incompetence of the Lab. That Lab is a far more important issue than wildland fire safety.
    Whatever else, thank you for this book.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Resubtitle : One of the Versions of the Storm King Fire
    Gee -- this isnt the fire I remember fighting!! How eloquent and backbiting a report from someone who wasnt even there and who, while researching this book, appears to have devoted most of his time to the federal offices groups. To spend so much energy on the inability of politicos to get along when a fire is truly fought on the ground...And the truly amazing players, the local fire officers and firefighterswho stepped up to the plate after the firestorm (prior to the arrival of the overhead team)and saved homes and each other -well, John you missed it, you missed most uplifting part of the story.So this isn't the "true" story of Storm King; it is one version, by someone who wasnt even there. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0688144772
    Subjects:  1. Colorado    2. Fires    3. Forest Fires    4. Forests & Forestry    5. Garfield County    6. Garfield County (Colo.)    7. History: American    8. Natural Disasters    9. Nature    10. Nature / Field Guide Books    11. Prevention and control    12. Trees & Forests - General    13. United States - State & Local - General    14. Wildfires    15. History / United States / 20th Century   


    Ghosts of the Fireground: Echoes of the Great Peshtigo Fire and the Calling of a Wildland Firefighter
    by Peter M. Leschak
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Hardcover (02 July, 2002)
    list price: $24.95
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    Reviews (10)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Just Another Wildland Firefighter
    I think that this book was wonderfully written, full of insight to the dangers of fighting fire and the passion and love that firefighters have for this dangerous profession.The spiritual points hit home and provide some explanations as to why any type of emergency responder will in a sense become "obsessed" with their job.It also provided me with quite a few notes that I will use when teaching younger firefighters.While it does not provide a full fledged history of the Peshtigo fire, it does touch on what I thought to be the most important aspects in relation to the authors in depth look at firefighting and those who choose to do it.

    5-0 out of 5 stars 2 books for the price of 1
    This is the first book I read about wildland firefighting. An employee of mine found this book and gave it to me. I got my red card earlier this year and she thought I would like the book. She was right.Since then I have read Fire on the Mountain and Young Men and Fire. So far this one is my favorite.

    Leschak tries to make two books out of this one. Part of the book is about the Peshtigo Fire and part of the book is about his exciting experiences in wildland firefighting. It goes chapter by chapter switching from being about the first topic and then back to the other.I read this a couple of months after my red card training and it was a good supliment to what I had just learned. Leschak does a good job of teaching about wildland firefighting. I wasn't too interested in the historical perspective of the Peshtigo Fire, and it's a good thing because there is less emphasis on this in the book.

    His stories are also exciting.I did not know what Helitack was before this book. Now that I know about it, that would be my dream job. Getting paid to ride around in a helicopter, hike in the woods, fight fire, cut down trees, build line.Now I have a goal to shoot for. Thanks.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Buyer Beware
    I intended to write a review halfway through this book, but I kept reading expecting it would actually talk about Peshtigo, but as other reviewers have said, it's mostly about Mr. Leschak.I finished it months ago, and just ran across it again lurking in my book pile, and yet I'm compelled to write a review.

    I grew up in Wisconsin in the 60-70's well aware of the lore of the Peshtigo fire.I was excited when I heard of this book, as I would love to read an historical account of the fire, ala the genre of real life accounts of trial and survival (Shackleton's "South", Albanov's "In the Land of White Death", Lundy's" Godforsaken Sea", Krakauer's "Into Thin Air", Simpson's "Touching the Void"...).This book was not what I had expected, and not what I would call a riveting book.I think the subtitle describes the book's treatment of the fire somewhat appropriately as "Echoes of the Great Peshtigo Fire...".

    That said, if someone wants to read about Mr. Leschak and the life of a firefighter, you may enjoy this book, but even then, it was a bit self absorbed, and brooding.If you want to learn about Peshtigo, look elsewhere.I'm personally looking forward to reading Lutz's "Firestorm at Peshtigo". ... Read more

    Isbn: 0062517775
    Sales Rank: 443541
    Subjects:  1. 19th century    2. Biography    3. Biography & Autobiography    4. Biography / Autobiography    5. Biography/Autobiography    6. Forest fires    7. Government - U.S. Government    8. History    9. Peshtigo Region    10. Prevention and control    11. Religious    12. United States    13. United States - General    14. Wildfire fighters    15. Wildfires    16. Wisconsin   

    Cocoanut Grove
    by Edward Keyes
    Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
    Hardcover (01 June, 1984)
    list price: $27.00
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    Reviews (6)

    2-0 out of 5 stars Interesting enough.......
    ....but this book is basically a rehash of the only other [and the BEST] book written about the fire, "Fire in Boston's Cocoanut Grove;: Holocaust!" by Paul Benzequin.
    Personally, I'd save my money, and check the Benzequin book out of the library.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Accurate revealing account of history
    This is an excellent book.It's just a tiny bit on the dry side, but that's not a criticism.The book sets the scene by creating an excellent picture of life in the early 1940's, and describes the events and people involved in what is certainly the best-known fire disaster in American History.Mr. Keyes certainly did his research well.For those are interested in history, you won't find a better book.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Time has forgotten
    A reasonably well-written account of one of the most diasterous nights in Boston's history.One of only two books available on this topic.There are no pictures. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0689114060
    Sales Rank: 769175
    Subjects:  1. Boston    2. Boston (Mass.)    3. Buildings, structures, etc    4. Cocoanut Grove (Boston, Mass.)    5. Fire, 1942    6. Fires    7. History - General History    8. Massachusetts    9. United States - State & Local - General   

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