History buffs and fans of forensic television shows will especially appreciate this exploration of one of the worst fires in...



In 1944, 167 people died in a circus fire in Hartford, Connecticut; 59 of them were children under 10.

Some were trampled when the audience of 6,000 tried to flee the tent; others died from burns. This chronological account vividly describes the circus, the fire, the rescue, and the medical care that followed. The polished text draws from interviews the author conducted as well as legal documents, newspapers, letters, and more. Black-and-white photographs of mixed quality add both information and a sense of the time. Much of the book focuses on mysteries surrounding the fire, such as its causes and unidentified bodies, puzzling them out from official reports from the time and subsequent investigations. Woven throughout is the story of a child’s unclaimed body, perhaps that of Eleanor Cook, a missing girl who wasn’t identified at the time. Details about the child’s clothes, her injuries from being trampled, and even a dental chart provide clues for readers to assess. It remains uncertain if the fire was caused by arson or if the body was Eleanor Cook’s, leaving readers with the realistic but possibly disappointing view that not all mysteries from the past can be solved.

History buffs and fans of forensic television shows will especially appreciate this exploration of one of the worst fires in American history. (author’s note, notes, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: June 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-61373-114-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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The car gets shortchanged, but comparing the divergent career paths of its (putative) two riders may give readers food for...



A custom-built, bulletproof limo links two historical figures who were pre-eminent in more or less different spheres.

Garland admits that a claim that FDR was driven to Congress to deliver his “Day of Infamy” speech in a car that once belonged to Capone rests on shaky evidence. He nonetheless uses the anecdote as a launchpad for twin portraits of contemporaries who occupy unique niches in this country’s history but had little in common. Both were smart, ambitious New Yorkers and were young when their fathers died, but they definitely “headed in opposite directions.” As he fills his biographical sketches with standard-issue facts and has disappointingly little to say about the car itself (which was commissioned by Capone in 1928 and still survives), this outing seems largely intended to be a vehicle for the dark, heavy illustrations. These are done in muted hues with densely scratched surfaces and angled so that the two men, the period backgrounds against which they are posed, and the car have monumental looks. It’s a reach to bill this, as the author does, a “story about America,” but it does at least offer a study in contrasts featuring two of America’s most renowned citizens. Most of the human figures are white in the art, but some group scenes include a few with darker skin.

The car gets shortchanged, but comparing the divergent career paths of its (putative) two riders may give readers food for thought. (timeline, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-88448-620-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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In this companion to Portraits of War: Civil War Photographers and Their Work (1998), Sullivan presents an album of the prominent ships and men who fought on both sides, matched to an engrossing account of the war's progress: at sea, on the Mississippi, and along the South's well-defended coastline. In his view, the issue never was in doubt, for though the Confederacy fought back with innovative ironclads, sleek blockade runners, well-armed commerce raiders, and sturdy fortifications, from the earliest stages the North was able to seal off, and then take, one major southern port after another. The photos, many of which were made from fragile glass plates whose survival seems near-miraculous, are drawn from private as well as public collections, and some have never been published before. There aren't any action shots, since mid-19th-century photography required very long exposure times, but the author compensates with contemporary prints, plus crisp battle accounts, lucid strategic overviews, and descriptions of the technological developments that, by war's end, gave this country a world-class navy. He also profiles the careers of Matthew Brady and several less well-known photographers, adding another level of interest to a multi-stranded survey. (source notes, index) (Nonfiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7613-1553-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Twenty-First Century/Millbrook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2001

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