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The Burning of the World by Scott W. Berg
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The Burning of the World by Scott W. Berg
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Sep 26, 2023 | ISBN 9780593786222 | 827 Minutes

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“Few urban calamities are as deeply embedded in our national consciousness as Chicago’s great inferno of 1871, yet our understanding of the disaster has largely been bound up in legend and lore. The Burning of the World tells us what really happened. Scott W. Berg brilliantly captures the stark devastation and heartbreak Chicagoans suffered that dreadful autumn, but also shows us how a vigorous new metropolis improbably rose from the heaps of ashes by the lake.”
—Hampton Sides, New York Times best-selling author of On Desperate Ground

“Intricately researched and written with passion,this inspiring book is not just the story of a majordisaster but is also a celebration of the America spirit—innovative, resourceful, and resilient, capable of risingphoenix-like from the ashes of calamity.”
—Joan Druett, author of Island of the Lost: An Extraordinary Story of Survival at the End of the World

“In this splendid history, Scott Berg captures in all its chaotic intensity the fiery apocalypse that nearly destroyed post-Civil War America’s most turbulent city. In vivid, cinematic prose, he brings to life the human fabric of Chicago’s multitudes, high and low, from swaggering commercial potentates, to the toiling immigrant poor, to jockeying politicians. In the process, he also delivers a masterful anatomy of the interplay between Gilded Age wealth and political power that relentlessly shaped the city as it strove to reinvent itself from its ruins.”
—Fergus M. Bordewich, author of Klan War: Ulysses S. Grant and the Battle to Save Reconstruction
“First of all, it was Mrs. Leary’s cow, not Mrs. O’Leary’s, and the unfortunate animal was probably innocent in any case. But that’s just one of the misconceptions about the Great Chicago Fire dispelled in this carefully researched but supremely readable book. Berg gives us a vivid, incisive, and politically astute account of what he calls ‘a disaster for the ages,’ elucidating the many extraordinary twists and surprising outcomes that qualified the fire as, yes, a tragic catastrophe, ‘but also a wonder.’ ”
—Gary Krist, author of The Mirage Factory: Illusion, Imagination, and the Invention of Los Angeles

“In this vivid and immersive history, Berg (38 Nooses) describes the Great Fire that devastated Chicago in October 1871. As Berg traces the battles between public and private interests that played out in the years after the fire, he astutely observes how the city was transformed into “a hothouse of populist democracy,” with the ever-growing working-class immigrant population, enraged by elite overreach, joining together as a unified voting bloc. This impressively researched account fascinates.” 
Publishers Weekly

“A complex, capably narrated history of the 1871 fire that remade Chicago. . . . In the end, [the city’s elites’] remaking of Chicago helped shape the form of the modern city—architecturally stunning but also sharply segregated by class and race. . . . A strong contribution to the history of not just the fire, but urban America generally.”
Kirkus Reviews

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