Carl Smith, the Franklyn Bliss Snyder Professor of English and American Studies, and Professor of History, Emeritus, at Northwestern University, joins our own Jon Grand to discuss his new work of nonfiction, Chicago’s Great Fire: The Destruction and Resurrection of an Iconic American City at an online Crowdcast event. This event is free; we ask that you buy your copy of the book from The Book Stall (or your local indie bookstore if you are not in the Chicago area.) Register here.
About the Book: Remarkably, no carefully researched popular history of the Great Chicago Fire has been written until now, despite it being one of the most cataclysmic disasters in US history. Building the story around memorable characters, both known to history and unknown, including the likes of General Philip Sheridan and Robert Todd Lincoln, eminent Chicago historian Carl Smith chronicles the city’s rapid growth and place in America’s post-Civil War expansion. The dramatic story of the fire—revealing human nature in all its guises—became one of equally remarkable renewal, as Chicago quickly rose back up from the ashes thanks to local determination and the world’s generosity and faith in Chicago’s future.
As we approach the fire’s 150th anniversary, Carl Smith’s compelling narrative at last gives this epic event its full and proper place in our national chronicle.
“Carl Smith has written the definitive work on the Great Chicago Fire—the context, the stories, and the aftermath. He masterfully demonstrates how disaster can unveil forces at work in society.”—Gary T. Johnson, President, Chicago History Museum
About the Author: Carl Smith's books include Chicago and the American Literary Imagination, 1880-1920; Urban Disorder and the Shape of Belief: The Great Chicago Fire, the Haymarket Bomb, and the Model Town of Pullman; The Plan of Chicago: Daniel Burnham and the Remaking of the American City; and City Water, City Life: Water and the Infrastructure of Ideas in Urbanizing Philadelphia, Boston, and Chicago.
From an acclaimed historian, the full and authoritative story of one of the most iconic disasters in American history, told through the vivid memories of those who experienced it