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Mini Review: ‘City of Scoundrels’ by Gary Krist

Mini Review: ‘City of Scoundrels’ by Gary Krist post image

Title: City of Scoundrels: The 12 Days of Disaster That Gave Birth to Modern Chicago
Author: Gary Krist
Genre: Narrative nonfiction
Year: 2012
Acquired: From the publisher for review consideration
Rating: ★★★★½

Long Review: The twelve days of disaster that gave birth to modern Chicago started with a blimp crash. A crew from the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company were testing one of their new airships, Wingfoot Express, with a well-publicized flight over downtown Chicago. But just minutes into the flight, the blimp caught on fire, plunging through the glass ceiling of a bank near Grant Park. And that wouldn’t nearly be the end of it. In the next two weeks, the citizens of Chicago would be shaken by a race riot, a transit strike, and a shocking child murder. By the end,

The unbridled energy and ambition that had been fueling Chicago’s transformation turned into a frenzy of violence and destruction that would leave dozens dead, hundreds injured, neighborhoods destroyed, and a city scarred by crime, corruption, and racial and ethnic hatred.

In City of Scoundrels, Gary Krist brings these 12 days to life in vivid detail, writing as effectively about the political decisions that led up to and, in some cases, exacerbated the disasters and the people on the street who had to make their way through Chicago in the midst of the crisis. Krist has a gift for plot, moving the story along quickly without glossing over any of the important (and gory and exciting and tragic) details. And his writing style is clear and accessible, making this an easy book to read. City of Scoundrels is a great narrative history that I couldn’t put down.

Other Reviews: Devourer of Books |

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • bermudaonion (Kathy) May 18, 2012, 9:29 am

    Sounds interesting! I bet my mother would love it.

  • I just finished and reviewed a non-fiction about the birth of Hollywood, the battle between the union and capitalists, and a famous detective in 1910, so I’m sort of on a kick right now with more non-fiction. This one sounds incredible, I’m putting this on my TBR! Thanks!

    • Kim May 22, 2012, 8:37 pm

      Oh man, that sounds awesome! I have to go see what book you’re talking about.

  • Jenna May 18, 2012, 9:57 am

    I’m loving the recent trend of creating narrative nonfiction that is accessible to the average reader. Simple and well-written prose can go a long way to making these books more enjoyable and less cumbersome than older non-fiction.

    • Kim May 22, 2012, 8:41 pm

      I am too. I don’t mind dense nonfiction, but I think it’s so great when an author can bring true stories to life.

  • Aarti May 18, 2012, 10:17 am

    Oh, awesome! I have wanted to get my hands on this one, mostly because I live in Chicago. Also because over the past week, this city has become a fortress because of the NATO people coming to town. It’s as though the city REMEMBERS the chaos from this period and wants to make sure nothing happens wile there are VISITORS.

    • Kim May 22, 2012, 8:42 pm

      I bet it would be so fun to read if you were from Chicago. I love learning about the history of places where I’ve lived.

  • Jessica @ Quirky Bookworm May 18, 2012, 3:12 pm

    I really enjoyed this book! I reviewed it for Shelf Awareness – and I’ll be reposting that review on my blog next week, no link yet.

    I’m also giving my F-I-L the book for Father’s Day because he loves history and they lived in Chicago for a few years. It was such a good read.

    • Kim May 22, 2012, 8:42 pm

      I loved your review! I recommended this one to my grandpa.

  • Kailana May 23, 2012, 10:29 am

    Oh, this sounds really interesting!