The Circus Fire: A True Story of an American Tragedy by Stewart O'Nan

The Circus Fire: A True Story of an American Tragedy

byStewart O'Nan

Kobo ebook | December 10, 2008

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The acclaimed author of A Prayer for the Dying brings all his narrative gifts to bear on this gripping account of tragedy and heroism—the great Hartford circus fire of 1944.

It was a midsummer afternoon, halfway through a Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus performance, when the big top caught fire. The tent had been waterproofed with a mixture of paraffin and gasoline; in seconds it was burning out of control. More than 8,000 people were trapped inside, and the ensuing disaster would eventually take 167 lives.

Steward O'Nan brings all his narrative gifts to bear on this gripping account of the great Hartford circus fire of 1944. Drawing on interviews with hundreds of survivors, O'Nan skillfully re-creates the horrific events and illuminates the psychological oddities of human behavior under stress: the mad scramble for the exits; the perilous effort to maneuver animals out of danger; the hero who tossed dozens of children to safety before being trampled to death. Brilliantly constructed and exceptionally moving, The Circus Fire is history at its most compelling.

Title:The Circus Fire: A True Story of an American TragedyFormat:Kobo ebookPublished:December 10, 2008Publisher:Knopf Doubleday Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0307482987

ISBN - 13:9780307482983

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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very interesting July 6, 1944. Hartford, Connecticut. The circus is in town and almost 10,000 people fill the stands in the main "big top" tent. As the tent catches fire, people scramble to get out - some are trampled, lots are separated from family and friends, some don't make it. 167 people, including 67 kids, died in that fire. O'Nan's book describes a bit of circus history before the fire, describes the fire and people's recollections of it, and looks at the aftermath. Some of the aftermath is trying to find out what (or who?) started the fire, and some of the aftermath is focused on people recovering and trying to solve the mystery of a few unidentified people who died that day. O'Nan also included some photographs in his book. Very interesting book. I don't know why I'm so interested in disasters like this, but I find them fascinating to read about. I especially found the mystery of the unidentified little girl - Little Miss 1565 - intriguing.
Date published: 2009-11-07