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Fire in the Grove: The Cocoanut Grove Tragedy and Its Aftermath

3.90  ·  Rating Details  ·  285 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
On Saturday night, November 28, 1942, Boston suffered its worst disaster ever. At the city's premier nightspot, the Cocoanut Grove, the largest nightclub fire in U.S. history took the lives of 492 people--nearly one of every two people on the premises. A flash of fire that started in an imitation palm tree rolled through the overcrowded club with breathtaking speed and in ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published October 10th 2006 by Da Capo Press (first published October 9th 2005)
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Community Reviews

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Quite a good book about the Cocoanut Grove fire. The BFD released the witness statements in October of last year, but this reads as if Esposito got hold of them for the book. The BPL also has a collection of photos, some of which were presented to the jury at the trial. I've read most of that stuff, so I am pretty familiar with the events, but this book does a good job at highlighting the corruption and malfeasance of city and state officials which makes all the more tragic that no officials wer ...more
Dec 15, 2014 Cindy rated it it was amazing
Through film, the past is an era of glitz and glamour and all that dazzle sometimes blinds us to the underbelly of the beast, the unfortunate truth that all is not as beautiful as it seems. The Cocoanut Grove was the place to dance, drink, and be merry. During prohibition, it was a speakeasy (one of 4000 in Boston-with 4 on the same street as a police station). When alcohol was legal again, and, when the club changed ownership, it was a swanky, tropical nightclub destined for expansion and profi ...more
Sep 11, 2013 Caroline rated it really liked it
An overcrowded night club covered in flammable velvet. A maze of hallways and staircases. Exit doors locked or hidden behind palm trees or in service areas. City codes ignored. Palms greased. A match is lit by a bar boy. In ten minutes, the Cocoanut Grove is engulfed in flames, panic ensues, and 492 people lose their lives. Soldiers, students, couples celebrating anniversaries, staff.

This tragic tale engaged me, saddened me, angered me. It should be remembered.
Shay Caroline
Feb 02, 2014 Shay Caroline rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
Having read and been fascinated by my father's copy of "Holocaust!" by Paul Benzaquin (1959), I was familiar with the subject of the famous Cocoanut Grove nightclub fire of 1942, and looked forward to reading this book. It was okay, but I liked Benzaquin's book much better.

"Fire In The Grove: The Cocoanut Grove Tragedy And Its Aftermath" concentrates largely on the behind-the-scenes chicanery that set the stage for this disastrous fire in which almost five hundred people lost their lives. Publi
Feb 07, 2016 Fishface rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, disaster
A good overview of the Cocoanut Grove nightclub fire of 1942. I now have a tiny taste of what caused the police and firemen to go home with white hair after leaving for work looking like young men. I was a little thrown to see how many other books the author was able to cite on the same subject and I wonder how different the information is in all those other treatments. This book included, as a postscript, some details of the Great White concert fire in Rhode Island a couple of years ago, as a w ...more
Sep 30, 2009 Drebbles rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2006
On November 28, 1942, Boston's Cocoanut Grove nightclub caught on fire. Trapped by flames and deadly fumes, 492 people died in what was ultimately the worst nightclub fire in United States history. "Fire In The Grove" details the events of not only the fire, but the events leading up to it: shoddy construction; the use of flammable materials; overcrowding; blocked exits; the employment of minors; and the willingness of public officials to overlook the violations. The book also covers the stories ...more
Nov 05, 2011 Yael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
On Saturday, November 28, 1942, at approximately 10:18 p.m., what was to become the worst nightclub fire in America's history broke out in the Coconut Grove nightclub in Boston, Massachusetts. The fire took the lives of 490 people, nearly one out of two people in the club at the time. A fire that began unobtrusively in an imitation palm tree in the basement Melody Lounge bar roared through the egregiously overcrowded club with incredible speed, taking only eight minutes to completely destroy the ...more
Amiranus Romanus
Mar 21, 2016 Amiranus Romanus rated it liked it
I found the book to be quite engaging, despite being overdramatized at times. It seemed to be well researched and the survivor stories proved to be a good source material. Jumping between scenes, situations and characters added a sense of urgency to the narrative. Unfortunately, the fact that these people actually died, somewhat detracted from my enjoyment. The accounts of the trials following the fire seemed a bit stretched out, although the transcript of Attorney General Bushnell’s deposition ...more
Jun 26, 2011 Margi rated it liked it
An interesting tale of the fire at the Cocoanut Grove in Boston on November 28, 1942. It cover the before and after which makes for a good story. It shows what changes were made after the fire to make these types of places safer. An interesting note though, the last chapter of the book covered the fire in the Rhode Island night club in 2003. It is interesting that all these years later people are still not willing to follow the rules and these horrible fires still happen. The book also gives som ...more
Dixie Diamond
Feb 20, 2014 Dixie Diamond rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, death, 1940s, my_books
I think this book is about as exhaustively researched as a book could be that is about an event that basically happened in the span of eight minutes. Well, obviously, there is a lot more before and after that eight minutes, but the fire itself was short. If you get frustrated by details, you'll be put off.

If you're frustrated by corruption and people who don't take responsibility for things, you'll be very put off.
Dec 18, 2014 Brian rated it liked it
Shelves: tragedy
Very detailed account of this tragedy. He did a good job telling the personal stories of the survivors and those lost. He also did a good job of exploring the political machine that enabled this event to occur and how society changed because of what happened. My only complaint was the edition of the book I had did not include any diagrams, maps or photos, even though they were referenced several times in the narrative.
Leaanne Chapman
Dec 18, 2015 Leaanne Chapman rated it it was amazing
I found it to be a well written account of the tragedy. The book was hard to put down and I would definitely would recommend this book.
Mar 18, 2011 Heather rated it really liked it
A well-written, informative story about a horrible tragedy. A good mixture of facts about the fire, and information about those involved.
Mark Goodwin
Feb 19, 2015 Mark Goodwin rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-books
Easy to read, very interesting and full of drama - both the actual event and the subsequent investigation and trial.
Aug 12, 2009 Sarah rated it liked it
Shelves: disaster
An interesting read, I wish I knew a little more about fire safety standards going into it.
Jul 08, 2013 Will rated it it was ok
Interested in the subject matter, but the book is more or less a well-researched Wikipedia entry.
Nancy L.
Aug 04, 2007 Nancy L. rated it really liked it
Shelves: calamities
Better researched than the first Cocoanut Grove book by Keyes.
Oct 26, 2008 Dan rated it it was ok
More an overview than a thorough look at the tragedy.
Apr 25, 2011 Meghann rated it really liked it
Shelves: re-red
re-read 4/20/2011
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