The Circus Fire A True Story Author:Stewart O'Nan The acclaimed author of A Prayer for the Dying brings all his narrative gifts to bear on this gripping account of tragedy and heroism-the great Hartford circus fire of 1944. — Halfway through a midsummer afternoon performance, Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus's big top caught fire. The tent had been waterproofed with a mixture of... more » paraffin and gasoline; in seconds it was burning out of control, and more than 8,000 people were trapped inside. 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 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 sad but intriguing bit of circus horror-show turned into real-life history. In Hartford, Connecticut in 1944 the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus played before a show of nearly 10,000 souls. In 1944 the circus tents were not required to be fireproofed and as a result, 167 people died in a sudden conflagration. A very interesting read with lots of anecdotes, diagrams, and photographs.