Kate Baker's Reviews > Chicago Death Trap: The Iroquois Theatre Fire of 1903

Chicago Death Trap by Nat Brandt
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's review
Apr 29, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: history, theatre-related

This book does a good job of laying out the facts from the 1903 fire of the Iroquois Theatre in Chicago. (It seems too that it is an almost forgotten piece of American tragedy - most people who attend the Oriental Theatre in Chicago have no idea it is standing where the Iroquois used to and where 602 people lost their lives.)
The details that the author was able to capture and retell was done in a way I found to conjure up amazing imagery regarding the layout of the theatre, the scenario backstage before during and after the fire broke out as well what each level of the theatre experienced from performer, to stagehand, to orchestra pit and on up to the audiences in the 2nd balcony.

There are a lot of facts, names and details to keep straight and at times it can get a little confusing trying to remember who was who - the author did a pretty good job of recapping as the book continued to help the reader remember who was who and who played what role in the disaster. Also, if you are interested in the where, how and why's pertaining to a number of safety regulations for most public buildings and especially theatres, then you would enjoy this book as most are still relevant today.
It is also an interesting piece of history that has almost been forgotten.

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