1995 ALA Newbery Honor Book
NCTE Orbis Pictus Award
Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor Book
In October 1871, as Chicago was engulfed in flames, 100,000 people became homeless and a flourishing city built of wood was transformed into a smoldering wasteland. Few believed that the city could ever rise again.
The Great Fire tells the riveting story of one of the greatest disasters in American history by weaving together the personal accounts of survivors — from courageous 12-year-old Clare Innis to reporter Joseph Chamberlin — with contemporary newspaper accounts and extensively researched Chicago history. In the process, Jim Murphy separates fact from legend, and explores the tensions between the haves and the have-nots that both fueled and followed the conflagration.
In clear and captivating prose, Murphy also reveals how the people of Chicago, in the face of despair, found the strength to rebuild and create a new architecture and a new city in the process. Maps illustrate the fire’s progress, while historic photos, engravings and newspaper clippings bring the Chicago of 1871 to life.