The Great Fire
The Great Fire

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Annotation: Dramatic account of the Great Chicago Fire.
Catalog Number: #123653
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
All Formats: Search
Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
Copyright Date: 1995
Edition Date: 2006
Pages: 144 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-439-20307-4 Perma-Bound: 0-605-02267-4
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-439-20307-4 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-02267-6
Dewey: 977.3
LCCN: 94009963
Dimensions: 26 cm.
Language: English
Horn Book
Vivid firsthand descriptions by persons who lived through the 1871 Chicago fire are woven into a gripping account of this famous disaster. Murphy also examines the origins of the fire, the errors of judgment that delayed effective response, the organizational problems of the city's firefighters, and the post-fire efforts to rebuild the city. Newspaper lithographs and a few historical photographs convey the magnitude of human suffering and confusion. Bib., ind.
Kirkus Reviews
A veritable cinematic account of the catastrophe that decimated much of Chicago in 1871, forcing more than 100,000 people from their homes. Murphy (Night Terrors, 1993) tells the story through the eyes of several survivors. He focuses on real-life people such as the O'Learys, in whose barn the fire began; James Hildreth, a politician who thought the best way to stop the fire was to blow up houses in its path and create a ``fire break,''; Julia Lemo, a widow who found the strength to save her five children and elderly parents; Joseph Chamberlin, a reporter for the Chicago Evening Post; and the courageous Claire Innes, a 12-year- old who survived despite being separated from her family in the fleeing mob. These characters serve as dramatic focal points as the fire sweeps across the city, their stories illuminated by fascinating archival photographs and maps outlining the spread of fire. Murphy assesses the conflicts between rich and poor that both fueled and followed the conflagration. With his conclusion that the tensions between the haves and the have-nots in large cities continued for decades, eventually culminating in the civil unrest of this century, he puts the incident in perspective, giving it stunning immediacy for contemporary readers. (bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)"
School Library Journal
Gr 5-12-Jim Murphy's primary source-based account (Scholastic, 1995) of the October 1871 conflagration that virtually wiped Chicago from the map is fully voiced by Taylor Mali. Weaving together technical details with firefighters', journalists', and ordinary citizens' accounts of their personal physical and emotional traumas as they unfolded across the 24 hours of the fire, this version of the long-mythologized event carefully repairs earlier historians' class- and gender-biased reports. Modern listeners will not be surprised to hear that some men fled and some women hauled traditionally man-sized loads in the face of the flames, but they will be fascinated by how very modern some of the responses to the disaster seem: the mayor of Chicago, for instance, called for help-and received it-from fire departments as far away as Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. Murphy carefully explains how specific mistakes led to the fire becoming so quickly out of control, as well as how political precepts of the era worked to keep these facts from public view. This is excellent social history as well as suspenseful storytelling. The diversity and multitude of personal accounts is presented in both text and voice so that there is no sense of frustration in the changes of viewpoints, but rather a better appreciation of the event as a dynamic experience from which we still have much to learn.-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* The great Chicago fire has long been the stuff of folklore and legend. Yet separating fact from fiction in this major disaster has often appeared a secondary priority at best. Murphy sets the record straight through carefully selected documents, personal accounts, photographs, and illustrations. Beginning on that warm Sunday evening, October 8, 1871, in the O'Leary barn, Murphy traces the fire through its three horror-filled days as, fed by lusty prairie winds, cinders from a Saturday night blaze, and structures (even streets and sidewalks) built almost entirely of wood, it consumed block after block of homes, businesses, and bodies, eventually leaving 100,000 people homeless. The book's design complements the author's treatment of the subject. Six double-page spreads of Chicago street maps show the sweep of the flames from the little-known Saturday blaze until rain finally extinguished the fire on Tuesday. Photographs and illustrations of the conflagration and the damage it left behind only add fuel to the author's dramatic text, a riveting narrative that combines the details of the fire itself with personal anecdotes gleaned from newspaper accounts and books written during and immediately after the fire. The Great Fire will automatically draw readers with its fiery cover and illustrations of disaster, but the text will keep them reading. (Reviewed June 1 & 15, 1995)
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references (pages 139-140) and index.
Word Count: 22,281
Reading Level: 7.6
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 7.6 / points: 4.0 / quiz: 14532 / grade: Upper Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:6.9 / points:7.0 / quiz:Q04751
Lexile: 1130L
Guided Reading Level: W
Fountas & Pinnell: W

Jim Murphy's Newbery Honor Book available for the first time in paperback.

The Great Fire of 1871 was one of most colossal disasters in American history. Overnight, the flourshing city of Chicago was transformed into a smoldering wasteland. The damage was so profound that few people believed the city could ever rise again.By weaving personal accounts of actual survivors together with the carefully researched history of Chicago and the disaster, Jim Murphy constructs a riveting narrative that recreates the event with drama and immediacy. And finally, he reveals how, even in a time of deepest dispair, the human spirit triumphed, as the people of Chicago found the courage and strength to build their city once again.

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