THE BURNING OF THE WORLD – Scott W. Berg – Rebuild Chicago Now!

A significant contribution to the history of not only the fire, but also urban America as a whole.

By Scott W. Berg ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 26, 2023

The 1871 fire that changed Chicago forever is the subject of Berg’s complex and well-told history. The fire was not an isolated incident, as the city had seen 28 fires in the week leading up to it, caused by a variety of factors such as cigarettes, grease spills, and oil-soaked rags. The fire began in the home of Irish immigrant Kate Leary, and was likely not caused by a cow, as is often thought. The houses in the West Division were made of pine-wood, which was cheap and quick to build, but highly flammable. The fire had many consequences, including the smearing of Leary in the press, likely due to her Irish heritage and the anti-immigrant sentiment of the time. Joseph Medill, a newspaper magnate and Republican politician, was a major proponent of this sentiment. Other influential figures in the rebuilding of Chicago included merchant Marshall Field and Wilbur Storey, a newspaper publisher who encouraged his reporters to write without facts. In the end, the city was rebuilt in the image of the powerful economic forces, and the modern city of Chicago was born, with its stunning architecture and stark class and racial divisions.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2023
ISBN: 9780804197847

Page Count: 464
Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: yesterday
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023