After reading, standing up holding on with one elbow as the train to and from the internship rattled and swayed, for a good while I finally finished my latest literary acquirement. City of Scoundrels: The 12 Days of Disaster that Gave Birth to Modern Chicago. Done and done.
It was fantastic in that I learned a lot about Chicago history. Things I knew became clearer. Gary Krist did some serious research when he crafted this completely non-fiction book by sifting through and unbelievable amount of information and seamlessly weaving a single narrative that is clear and interesting.
I’m pretty much impressed. Was it Joyce? No. It was an easy read to be sure, but partially easy because of how to story is told. Chronologically, and with the unique perspective of looking back at something and accepting it as part of why we are who we are today. It’s dirty and corrupt, but who didn’t know that about this town anyway. Mayor Thompson, a man many consider to be one of, if not the worst mayor in Chicago history, is responsible for the lawlessness and corruption just as he is for much of the city’s beautiful Burnham vision coming to life.
I would recommend it if you are into real history told in a fiction format. The book includes the author’s notes, bibliography, and index, which I think is incredible in and of itself.
If all of our history was so easy to access, would we be a different people?
“Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency.” ― Daniel Burnham
“Chicago ain’t no Sunday School.” –“Bathhouse John” Coughlin