Jeanne's Reviews > The Circus Fire: A True Story of an American Tragedy

The Circus Fire by Stewart O'Nan
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's review
May 19, 2007

liked it
bookshelves: non-fiction
Read in May, 2007

As you can see, if you flip through my books list, I'm not much of one for non-fiction books that don't relate to dogs. I actually started reading this book years ago. I don't know why I picked it up, but I only got through the first bit. Someone returned it to the library and I picked it up again this week and decided to finish it.

I certainly didn't need to know that much about the Hartford fire. I still don't know why I read the book. I'm more curious how the author researched the book than I am about the circus fire itself. It's not as if it's a "real crime" story with a satisfying ending. No one will ever know how the fire started. There were so many people involved, the book does not follow any one person in much depth so it's difficult for me to "care" about the people, other than that it really happened.

It is interesting, though, to read about how people reacted both during the fire and afterwards. With most disasters, you get heroes and those who act in their own self-interest. The heroes generally get the most press because who wants to stand up and say, "Yeah, I knocked over an old lady and three kids to get out of there alive"?

It reads fairly quickly. If you have a fascination with fire you might want to give it a read. If you have a fear of crowded spaces, you might want to avoid it.

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