The Circus Fire

3.93 avg rating
( 1,866 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9781567409376: The Circus Fire

“An extraordinary book. O’Nan is amazing in his handling of the abundance of facts, rumors and legends that have built up around this fire.” —USA Today

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.

Stewart 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.

“A profound remembering of the fire, its victims, its survivors, and its legacy.” —The Boston Globe

“[O’Nan’s nonfiction] is as accomplished as his fiction...as gripping as any thriller.” —The Seattle Times

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

Review:

As some 9,000 people watched the Wallendas begin their high-wire act on July 6, 1944, a fire started on the sidewall of the big top at the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. The tent had been waterproofed with a mixture of 6,000 gallons of white gasoline and 18,000 pounds of paraffin; common practice for circuses at the time. In minutes, the entire tent was engulfed in flames. In the rush for the exits, people were trampled and burned--some beyond recognition. In the end, 167 were dead and 487 injured, of whom 140 required hospitalization. The city of Hartford, Connecticut, would never be the same. Stewart O'Nan brings his storytelling ability to the tragedy of The Circus Fire.

Several survivors said the one thing they will never forget about the circus fire as long as they live is the sound of the animals as they burned alive. But there were no animals.

O'Nan interviewed dozens of witnesses and examined police reports, newspaper accounts, and court documents while researching the fire. The result is an engrossing--though agonizingly painful--account of the great fire and its aftermath. He probes the tragedy's enduring mysteries--How did the fire start? Who are the unidentified victims? Who is Little Miss 1565?--and offers up conclusions of his own. He also provides remarkable vignettes of panic, heroism, and grief: Merle Evans and the band playing "The Stars and Stripes Forever," the circus disaster march, over and over; Bill Curlee, standing atop the wild animal chute throwing trapped children to safety; the Cote sisters, who made it home safely then broke down when asked why they were back so early. O'Nan tells their stories with compassion--albeit with a slight tendency toward the macabre.

Moving, saddening, gruesome--yet car-crash compelling--The Circus Fire is a gripping read. Highly recommended. --Sunny Delaney

From the Inside Flap:

d 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.

Halfway through a midsummer afternoon performance, Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus's big top caught fire. The tent had been waterproofed with a mixture of paraffin and gasoline; in seconds it was burning out of control, and more than 8,000 people were trapped inside. 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 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.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Buy Used View Book
List Price: US$ 73.25
US$ 8.00

Convert Currency

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.

Destination, Rates & Speeds

Add to Basket

Top Search Results from the AbeBooks Marketplace

1.

O'Nan, Stewart
Published by Brilliance Corp., Grand Haven, Michigan, U.S.A. (2000)
ISBN 10: 1567409377 ISBN 13: 9781567409376
Used Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
JARBOOKSELL
(Voorhees, NJ, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Brilliance Corp., Grand Haven, Michigan, U.S.A., 2000. Audio Cassette Plastic Box. Book Condition: Near Fine. Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good. Unabridged Audio Book on Tape. This unabridged audio book on tape has 7 cassette tapes in near fine condition with a sticker on each tape. The plastic case is in very good condition with a little edge wear, stickers on the front cover, and a sticker and a clear plastic pocket on the rear cover. This nonfiction book is read by Dick Hill and lasts about 11 hours. Audio Cassette Ex-Library. Bookseller Inventory # 002773

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy Used
US$ 8.00
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds