Review Detail

Timely Pandemic Title
Overall rating
 
4.7
Writing Style
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
4.0
Learning Value
 
5.0
With a growing concern over wildfires and a plethora of fiction books on the topic, including this author's Into the Firestorm: A Novel of San Francisco 1906 (2006), this is a timely read and a great follow up to the other two books in this series, Deadliest Diseases and Deadliest Hurricanes.

There are three sections to the book (and a little over 200 pages, just the perfect length). The first covers Great Midwest Fires of 1871, the second Twentieth Century Fires including Chicago, San Francisco, The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, and the third chapters deals with fires of the 21st century. Considering we are only 22 years in, there have been far too many fires.
Good Points
The stories are all told in an engaging, fast paced way, and the inclusion of some period drawings, maps, and photographs help spark interest. There are lots of additional information about a variety of topics, such as the Menominee Tribe, the National Fire Protection Association, how earthquakes are measured, and even a note about primary source letters and an encouragement to young readers to write one! There are fun facts, like the Chicago City Council's 1997 goodwill resolution exonerating Mrs. O'Leary and her cow from all blame in the fire of 1871, and bold faced text for words that are listed in the glossary at the end of the book. There are a few internet resources on selected topics as well.

I especially liked how Hopkinson covered different aspects of the aftermaths of these fires, like how the Chicago and San Francisco Fires disproportionately affected economically disadvantaged communities; I had just learned in Goldstone's Days of Infamy how the Chinese American population had to stand their ground to keep from being moved to inferior land in San Francisco. The Triangle Fire is my favorite Horrible Historical Event, so seeing how it changed labor practices is always interesting.
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