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A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919
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A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919

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3.67  ·  Rating details ·  517 ratings  ·  147 reviews
On a hot day in July 1919, three black youths went swimming in Lake Michigan, unintentionally floating close to the "white" beach. An angry white man began throwing stones at the boys, striking and killing one. Racial conflict on the beach erupted into days of urban violence that shook the city of Chicago to its foundations. This mesmerizing narrative draws on contemporary ...more
198 pages
Published 2017 by Clarion
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Average rating 3.67  · 
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Chris
Feb 07, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, 2018
Informative and important, but the narrative didn't really grab me. Heavy on background (Great Migration, Eastern/Central European immigration to the United States in the early 19th century) to the extent that the book feels mistitled. Will re-read.
Jennifer Mangler
I really learned a lot from this book, and the history of race and ethnic relations in Chicago is fascinating, but it's not what I was expecting because the book is seriously mistitled. The very beginning and the very end of the book focus on the race riot, but the biggest central part of the book is devoted to setting the stage for the riot. That's necessary and important, because without this part the riot can't be fully understood, but it means that the book is about so much more than the ...more
Jamie
Feb 03, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: net-galley
*** I received an e galley from Netgalley in return for an honest review.***
I do not read much nonfiction, but I was interested in the topic having read The Hate U Give and All-American Boys. I agree with other readers that most of the book discusses the issues and the history of Chicago leading up to the riots and little on the riots themselves. I thought it was a good read and would make a good pairing with the books previously mentioned.
Randall Wallace
Jul 30, 2019 rated it liked it
This is one of nine books on this now 100-year-old subject I’ve reviewed on Goodreads, what does it offer over the others? It’s the best-printed and gives you better photos and bigger pages to better envision yourself in Chicago one hundred years ago during it’s summer of racial violence. Chicago was founded in 1837 – it had two canals connecting it to the Mississippi and even the Hudson, and after 1848, when canals were built, the railroads finally came with their ability to move goods all ...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Jan 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chicago
A few boys drift too far outside the racially-designated beach at Lake Michigan one summer and trouble ensues. A boy dies and rumors fly and it is soon black against white and white against black. Many die as the destruction goes on for days, fed by lies subtly shared by standing city gangs and by those who profit most from conflict.

It's a dark story of people against people as pressures increase in the city after the war for jobs, for housing. It's a cautionary tale for today as well, with
...more
Renata
Mar 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, history, ya
This is an interesting topic. I appreciated the depth the author went into about the Great Migration of African Americans to Chicago and the Irish famine, but also it's perhaps ultimately MORE about that than it is the titular riots? It's also a bit dry & academic in tone--would be good for teen research purposes, but harder to sell as a historical read than some other YA history books that read more like novels. Also: why do publishers keep making YA history books in these large sizes?? ...more
Kyle Pucciarello
Jan 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Informative, but a little dry.

The first half of the book is mostly dedicated to immigration and setting up Chicago's variety of ethnicities. This is important to set up the riots of 1919, but perhaps too much time was spent on this aspect.

Once we get to the riots, we get plenty of information. However, I easily could see this done as narrative non-fiction in a more intriguing way that might truly get to a YA reader.

I also would have liked more of a connection to today's issues, or some grander
...more
Amy
Los Angeles Times Book Prize Nominee for Young Adult Literature (2018), Coretta Scott King Award for Author (2019)

This piece of history took place 100 years ago in Chicago in July of 1919. It is not a good story, but still an important one that needs to be shared. For some, this will seem like Class Warfare at its finest - the division of classes reminds me a little of those in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. The riot was between the blacks living in Black Belt and the immigrants living in
...more
Kristin
Jan 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although titled The Chicago Race Riot of 1919, most of this book focuses on building the background of what led to these riots: building tensions between blacks, white Protestants, and Irish immigrants. The division between blacks and whites, rich and poor, American-born and immigrants became deeper by the day in Chicago. Finally, on an unseasonably hot September day, a group of four black teenage boys was attacked by a white teen throwing rocks as they were swimming and rafting on Lake ...more
Jenn
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, 2019
I was really disappointed with this book. The layout is attractive and the supplemental materials (posters, photographs, etc) are interesting. The storytelling is the problem. Hartfield does not seem to take the intended audience in mind as she lays out the history of the race riot. Based on the book's format, I would assume this book is intended for middle grade readers. Teens typically would not pick up a book this size. Hartfield starts with the precipitating event of the riot and then goes ...more
Alyssa Gudenburr
Mar 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Book 10 of my middle grade reads. This one was chosen as my 2nd non-fiction book and won the 2019 Coretta Scott King Author Book Award.

I really enjoyed this book and learned a lot about the history of Chicago that lead up to the Chicago Race Riot of 1919. This book is VERY academic and would be a GREAT resource for middle and high school reports/research. It reads as a mix between a textbook and a retelling of someone who lived through the events. My favorite part was the photographs, newspaper
...more
Suzanne Dix
2019 marks a century since the Chicago Race Riot of 1919. In that summer of 1919, 38 people died and 537 were badly injured over the course of several days of rioting. Two-thirds of the victims were African-Americans. Despite this type of violence as categorized blithely as a “southern problem,” this marked a huge wake-up call that the North wasn’t as open minded as they liked to believe. Historically, Chicago was both opportunity and oppression to recently transplanted African-Americans and new ...more
Katarin
Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A quick, interesting and enjoyable read. A Few Red Drops spends the majority of it's time not on the riot itself, but in setting up the context for why such a deadly riot occurred. By building up the history of Chicago at the time, and how the great migration, WWI and Unionizing efforts in Chicago Meat Packing industry stoked tensions along racial and ethnic lines, A Few Red Drops gives a much fuller picture of the 1919 riot. Solid rec.
Anne
Read it online. I knew nothing about the 1919 race riot in Chicago or very much about the meat packing industry and unions involved in it at that time, so it was an informative book, but it could have been much more gripping. The black and white pictures were appreciated and well used. And I felt it smoothed out the current state of unrest more than it should have, given the subject matter, though I suppose it was trying to end on a hopeful note.
Trixi
Jun 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
While the focus of the book is the Chicago race riots of 1919, it does a great job in covering the late 1800s/early 1900s changes in Chicago that lead up to the 1919 riots. The influx of immigrants to the city, the meat packing industry and the big bosses who definitely took advantage of the workers as well as the individual ethnic communities all were components that played a part. As the industry became more automated, the workers were being paid less and finally unions took off, but some ...more
Tippy Jackson
This focuses on the factors leading up to the Chicago race riot of 1919. Detailed but engaging, the author does a fantastic job describing the building tensions among the easter Europeans and Irish immigrants and the black migrants from the south, as well as how law enforcement, company owners, unions and politicians played a role in those tensions. It's very well researched, pulling from many different sources to get a complete picture of the time.

The author notes and I will add that there are
...more
Lorena
Aug 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. This interesting nonfiction title tells the story of the events leading up to the Chicago race riots of 1919. I must admit I am ignorant on this topic and had no idea of all that transpired in Chicago. It opened my eyes to how racism grew in the north post-civil war.
Emily
Oct 02, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, race
Super informative and interesting but didn't really grab me emotionally. The meat packing detail really made me want to stop reading altogether.
Kerri
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully organized with a wealth of history about Chicago and the Great Migration this book highlights the ways race is and has always been a barrier in America.
Emily Jackson
Feb 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is the first book I have read that discusses the Chicago Race Riot and a historical event about African Americans
Joyce Yattoni
Jan 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Just finished this nonfiction read about the Chicago race riots of 1919. I was naive before I read this book. I didn’t realize that there were race riots in Chicago. After all, this was the north and I thought the north had a different attitude towards people of color. After the Civil War many African Americans migrated to the north to establish better lives. However, European immigrants did not welcome these individuals with open arms. In fact, many immigrants were given favorable treatment ...more
Cheryl
Aug 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Everyone should read this.
Peter Kilkelly
Feb 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult
Too kind to Chicago authorities and whites, even the idea of a "race riot" is somewhat misleading. This was white's using terroristic violence to enforce the boundaries of where black Chicagoans could go, with the help of the police. Still, it does include a lot of good historical detail and photography, for those unfamiliar with this event.
Amanda Baker
This was a quick read, but informative. While the book discussed the landscape of Chicago during that time, I believe, like many other reviewers, it was lacking in talking about the actual race riots. The narrative was well written and flowed well, but without this pertinent information, this book falls short of its potential.
Becky
Feb 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
The chapter headings in this book have a fine spray of red spatters behind them, which is a little disconcerting. Otherwise, an interesting history of something I knew nothing about.
Melissa
Jan 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, kids
It started out great, but then it stopped the riot story to give 120 pages of back story. It then finished with another 10ish pages of the riot outcome. By then I had lost interest and I think many kids will too.
Rachel
Jan 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received this book as an ARC. As other readers have stated, this book isn't only about the Chicago Race Riot of 1919. Over half the book is dedicated to Chicago immigrant history and race relations in the 19th and 20th centuries. The title would more appropriately be something along the lines of "Chicago Race Relations." It was a quick read with a lot of great historical photographs of Chicago landmarks and people; it was only lacking a map of Chicago and all the neighborhoods that were ...more
Carol
Aug 24, 2018 rated it liked it
After the initial setup of the story, the book sounds too much like a textbook until you get back to the information about the actual riots towards the end. It sounds like they had a lot of material to deal with. I wished they would have shared more anecdotal information about the riots as well.
Patricia Powell
Rarely does nonfiction win big awards in young readers’ literature. But nonfiction “A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2018) by Claire Hartfield, is the worthy Coretta Scott King 2019 literature winner.
Hartfield starts her story at a Lake Michigan beach where a black boy is murdered during the extreme summer heat of 1919—right at the color line, between segregated beaches, where the “white” beach meets the “black” beach. She then regresses to the
...more
Sally Sugarman
Aug 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
This Young Adult book recounts the history of the Chicago Race Riot of 1919. The book is well illustrated with photographs from the time as well as copies of some of the documents. It begins with the incident that sparked the riots but then goes back and provides the history that led to the riot. It traces the movement of some free blacks to the North before and after the Civil War. There were a flood of immigrants into the country from Ireland, Poland, Lithuania and other countries. Chicago ...more
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