The Circus Fire: A True Story by Stewart O’Nan

The Circus FireIn the summer of 1944 in Hartford, Connecticut the big top of the Ringling Brothers circus caught fire during a performance. The big top had been waterproofed with gasoline and paraffin so it was completely engulfed within minutes. There were 9000 people in attendance, scrabbling to flee the fire through 7 exits. The book details the psychology of group behavior during a catastrophe, from heroism to selfishness. It also covers the efforts to identify the dead, some of whom were never identified. This was a very interesting read.

Reviewed by Diane

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