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Gayle Soucek, the author, in Chicago Calamities, provides a solid background on the disasters that helped shape Chicago throughout its history. Although I've lived in Chicago for almost ten years, not being a native has left me with a knowledge gap about certain areas of Chicago history. So I appreciate the way in which Soucek not just presents the facts, but has researched what led up to each event and its aftermath.
I would recommend Chicago Calamities not just for the lover of US and Chicago history, but also for those doing research on Chicago ancestors and family history. This is a "must read" if you want to place your ancestors in perspective and in relation to the events that transpired over the course of the city's history.
I'm originally from the southwest side of Chicago and it was very interesting to read the full stories of events from in and around my neighborhood. There was information in the book that I hadn't heard before.
This is one of those rare books, written so well I could not set it aside. Each calamity is related in well researched and very interesting descriptions that include the underlying factors. I had read a book about the school fire and yet this book was as captivating. This book also avoids shock value offensive descriptions and personal melodramas found in other books on these topics. Well done.