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The Circus Fire: A True Story (MP3 CD)
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An extraordinary book. O Nan is amazing in his handling of the abundance of facts, rumors and legends that have built up around this fire. "USA Today"
It was a midsummer afternoon, halfway through a Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus performance, when the big top caught fire. The tent had been waterproofed with a mixture of paraffin and gasoline; in seconds it was burning out of control. More than 8,000 people were trapped inside, and the ensuing disaster would eventually take 167 lives.
Stewart O Nan brings all his narrative gifts to bear on this gripping account of the great Hartford circus fire of 1944. Drawing on interviews with hundreds of survivors, O Nan skillfully re-creates the horrific events and illuminates the psychological oddities of human behavior under stress: the mad scramble for the exits; the perilous effort to maneuver animals out of danger; the hero who tossed dozens of children to safety before being trampled to death. Brilliantly constructed and exceptionally moving, "The Circus Fire" is history at its most compelling.
A profound remembering of the fire, its victims, its survivors, and its legacy. "The Boston Globe"
O Nan's nonfiction] is as accomplished as his fiction as gripping as any thriller. "The Seattle Times"