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City of Scoundrels: The 12 Days of Disaster…
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City of Scoundrels: The 12 Days of Disaster That Gave Birth to Modern… (2012)

by Gary Krist

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Blatant machine politics, racial, ethnic and labor unrest. Murder and gang warfare. Epic battles between Springfield and City Hall. Accusations of buying of political appointments and a showdown over public transit. Big dreams and even bigger plans to transform the face of the city. A blustery, compelling, charismatic mayor fond of making great pronuncements not always based in fact. Chicago in the 21st century? Nope. Chicago, 1919. It's refreshing and disturbing that some things never change. The only major difference I can see is that no one really flies dirigibles around the city anymore. Nice little side stories of Carl Sandburg and Ring Lardner, too. I had no idea Sandburg lived in Maywood for a time. Totally worth reading. ( )
  cookierooks | Nov 16, 2016 |
Interesting popular history on one of the most turbulent times in Chicago’s history – a 12 day stretch in 1919 that featured an aviation disaster, a race riot, a crippling transit strike, and a sensational child murder. Krist achieves a remarkable sense of tension, while at the same time delivering a solid factual backstory- explaining the historical context of the political corruption, economic flux, press politics, and racial tension in Chicago leading up to this spectacular series of events. A good read. ( )
  Alidawn | Jan 29, 2016 |
This is a time and place that I wasn't much aware of. It was interesting, but might have been easier to follow if I understood more or understood better the story the author was trying to portray. ( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 23, 2016 |
This is a time and place that I wasn't much aware of. It was interesting, but might have been easier to follow if I understood more or understood better the story the author was trying to portray. ( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 23, 2016 |
This is the first book that I have read by Krist and I am definitely a fan. I picked up "City of Scoundrels" as it was about Chicago, a city that I visited for the first time in 2013. I wanted to find out more about the city and its history. The action in this book centres on the years 1919 to 1920. And what tumultuous years they were!

Krist grabbed my attention right away with his account of the Wingfoot, a blimp that caught fire over the city and crashed into a bank causing death and injuries in the building. From there he led into the politicking and larger than life characters who had their fingers in the pie as they tried to gain control of the city. His account finished up with the race riots that raged for over a week which were exacerbated by a transit strike.

I never knew that Chicago had such a tumultuous past. The only notorious history I had heard was about the years that the gangs held sway. Krist concentrated on the years before Capone and his ilk came into power. What an enthralling history. It read like the best fiction. I will definitely look for more books by Gary Krist.
  Familyhistorian | Nov 14, 2015 |
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Epigraph
Great wars have been followed by an unually large number of killings between private citizens and individuals.- Clarence Darrow
It came to me then that I had been fighting the wrong war. The Germans weren't the enemy. The enemy was right here at home.- Harry Haywood
Chicago ain't no Sunday school.- "Bathhouse John" Coughlin
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for Anna, my favorite Chicagoan
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(Prologue) The Spanish influenza had nearly killed Carl Otto that summer, but now the young bank telegrapher, clearly on the mend, was eager to return to work.
Wet snow pelted the city all evening, glazing the traffic-choked streets and wrapping every arc light in a gauzy halo of mist.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307454290, Hardcover)

The masterfully told story of 12 volatile days in the life of Chicago, when an aviation disaster, a race riot, a crippling transit strike, and a sensational child murder roiled a city already on the brink of collapse.

When 1919 began, the city of Chicago seemed on the verge of transformation. Modernizers had an audacious, expensive plan to turn the city from a brawling, unglamorous place into "the Metropolis of the World." But just as the dream seemed within reach, pandemonium broke loose--the city's highest ambitions suddenly under attack by the same unbridled energies that had given birth to them in the first place.

It began on a balmy Monday afternoon when a blimp in flames crashed through the roof of a busy downtown bank, incinerating those inside. Within days,a racial incident at a hot, crowded South Side beach spiraled into one of the worst urban riots in American history, followed by a transit strike that paralyzed the city. Then, when it seemed as if things could get no worse, police searching for a six-year-old girl discovered her body in a dark, North Side basement.

Meticulously researched yet expertly paced, City of Scoundrels captures the tumultuous birth of the modern American city, with all of its light and dark aspects in vivid relief.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:06 -0400)

Documents the harrowing twelve-day period in Chicago in 1919 during which a blimp crash, a race riot, a crippling transit strike, and a sensational child murder case challenged the city's modernization efforts.

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