Chicago’s Defining Moments: Taking on Gary Krist’s City of Scoundrels

Bookstores are going to break me. No matter what I do, if you put me in one I’ll get attached to something, bond with it,and be sad to leave it behind (que sad puppy eyes). So I am beginning to believe that the only reason I was called in to interview for a part time position at one was so that my weakness could be taken advantage of. It’s a good sales strategy. Lure in the book addicts with the promise of employment and then empty their pockets as they try to leave unscathed. And now, with even the number of mega bookstores dwindling, the opportunity to flip through a volume before committing is getting so rare that one feels the need to take advantage of the trip.

Did I mention that I got a new book today? I think there was an interview too, but BOOK! I got a new book!City of Scoundrels

City of Scoundrels by Gary Krist builds itself within what is often considered the worst two weeks of Chicago history. Beginning with an aviation accident in which a blimp crashed directly into a downtown bank building, a twelve day block in July of 1919 grew more chaotic with every hour. A sensationalized child abduction and murder of six-year-old Janet Wilkinson hit headlines along a race riot that begun with the death of a young boy. These events, especially the latter, pushed the limits of what America had yet seen of violence and shook the foundations of Chicago society. The anger cultivated in the riot spilled over into the mass transit strike that brought the city to a standstill.

I’ve read about all of these events before, Chicago has a very rich and often times bloody history staining its streets and echoing between its grand buildings, but I’ve never seen them cumulatively through one persons eyes.

So I’m excited. Nerd excited in a big way. I’ll let you know how I feel after I’ve read it. It might be awful, who knows. Yet, any time I can understand and connect more deeply with the history of a city as great as this one, it’s worth a shot.

“Loving Chicago is like loving a woman with a broken nose.”
Nelson Algren


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