Holy Smoke--TWO New Books on the 1903 Iroquois Theater Fire!

On its centenary, two new books are being published on that ghastly blaze. I have the original book at home, published while the embers were still burning.

What to do? I’ll ask my library if they are getting either of these new books in. I hope someone writes a book about the Geberal Slocum as its centenary approaches . . .

Damn. Well, you’ll have to take my word for it, then.

Take that, Big Apple.
Chicago is #1 (in terms of deaths due to fire in a single building!)

The Trib book section purported to review these books last Sunday. In actuality, the article just described the incident, without really giving any insight into which book was better than the other.

IIRC, Tinderbox makes use of interviews during the 60s with folk who were actually there.

Sounds like an absolutely horrendous scene.

Eve, you’re an author…you write it! :slight_smile:

Eve, could we be separated at birth? I haven’t been posting long, but I see by your posts and the threads you start (e.g., Bix Beiderbecke, Horst Bucholtz, etc.) that we are cut from the same cloth.

And now you bring up the Iroquois Theatre… All my life, I have been fascinated by disasters. Not obsessed, I hope, just unavoidably drawn to them. I read everything I can find and sometimes feel guilty about it. (Although I just finished re-reading a so-so novel based on the Hartford Circus Fire.)

My Dad is secretly drawn to disasters too, particularly the maritime kind, and he told me about the General Slocum when I was a child. We were talking about it again just recently, along with the Mont Blanc and *Imo[i/], the two ships whose explosions nearly leveled Halifax in 1917. His father, just shipping out to WWI, narrowly missed being there at the time.

I’m sure someone has a book in the works on the Gen. Slocum, and I’m sure I’ll read the Iroquois books… guiltily, but hungrily.

Both the Iroquois Theater and General Slocum disasters have the same twist on their tragedies: people out for a good time getting killed instead. Others that comes to mind is the Ringling Brothers big top fire, and of course the 2 recent tragedies.

One dramatic theme often present is the performer who keeps his head and minimizes the loss of life, like Eddie Foy at the Iroquois. And there’s always the villian in the manager who had locked the exits to prevent kids from letting friends in for free

During my grandmother’s tenure as his assistant, Blackstone the Magician prevented a stampede when fire broke out backstage by inviting the audience to step outside to see his next big trick.

Should have previewed my previous post.

There IS a book about the * Gen. Slocum* listed on Amazon as soon to be released. It’s called Ship Ablaze: The Tragedy of the Steamboat General Slocum by Edward T. O’Donnell.

Dinsdale, are you talking about Our Lady of Angels (?), where all those kids died? A hideous nightmare.

Cool! Thanks, EC, I shall have to find that new book! I plan to be at whatever 100th anniversay ceremony they hold.

. . . Now, for someone to write about the Brooklyn Theater fire of 1876 . . .

March 3rd’s episode “Little Miss Lost” of the ABC fantasy series Miracles focused on the unidentified girl “Little Miss 1565” from the Hartford circus fire. The link given for “Little Miss 1565” says she was identified in the 1990s, exhumed, and buried with her brother who also died in the fire.

No, he’s talking about the Iroquois Theater. The fire you’re thinking about had about 80 fatalities, the Iroqouis around 600.

This is the power you have, Eve. You mention something you saw online. We, you faithful minions, all follow your lead. And within three minutes, Amazon.com has been overwhelmed.

But if it’s disasters you’re looking for, why go for them one by one when you can have them all at once. I recently picked up a copy of The 100 Greatest Disasters of All Time by Stephen Spignesi (part of Citadel’s 100 series). In one volume you’ve got both the Iroquois and the General Slocum, along with the Black Death, the Titanic, Three Mile Island, Hurricane Fifi, the Ukrainian Famines of 1921 and 1932, the English Sweating Sickness epidemic, the Plague of Justinian, the Dust Bowl, and the burning of the Library of Congress in 1851.

ECJones wrote:

“There IS a book about the Gen. Slocum listed on Amazon as soon to be released. It’s called Ship Ablaze: The Tragedy of the Steamboat General Slocum by Edward T. O’Donnell.”

Eve wrote:

“Cool! Thanks, EC, I shall have to find that new book! I plan to be at whatever 100th anniversay ceremony they hold.”

Eve, stick with me kiddo – I’ve got an inside track. Ed O’Donnell is a good friend of mine. He’s sending me a reviewer copy of his book in the very near future. If you’ve got specific Q’s for him, email me off the board.

All the rest of you disaster-Dopers, buy Ed’s book! If enough of you do, maybe he’ll pick up the check at our next lunch. [Grinny here.]

BTW, if you want to read about a fascinating, little-known disaster check out “The Malbone Street [Subway] Wreck” by Brian Cudahy.

Some 90-odd persons (mostly Brooklynites) were killed in 1918 when an untrained strike-replacement motorman derailed a speeding subway train as it entered a tunnel in the shadow of Prospect Park. The disaster still ranks as the US’s fourth-worst railway disaster – quite a catastrophy when you consider that the #1 disaster claimed less then 10 more victims than the Malbone St. wreck.

Stuyguy, Woe betide those who would hire scabs.

O’Donnell seems to know his disasters. What’s his story? Has he ever figured in any History Channel/TLC/Discovery programs? I’d be interested in hearing him speak…

Is that the one where thousands of people laughed themselves to death when they heard it was coming?

Stuyguy, I so want to read that book! And we should arrange a group to attend the 100th anniversary ceremonies, on June 15, 2004.

A professor of mine wrote a book about steamboat disasters (and all the goodies such as songs, puzzles and pictures that are connected). I think it’s called simply “Steamboat Disasters”, and it’s by John Brockmann.
Re: General Slocum- since it happens the day before the day on which “Ulysses” takes place (June 16th 1904)- there’s also a good chunk of Joyceans out there who have touched upon it.



i don’t know about y’all but i can’t resist a book that is filled with numerous and pathetic incidents.

A friend informed me of the discussion here about famous fires, including the General Slocum fire of 1904. As noted, I’ve written a book (Ship Ablaze: The Tragedy of the Steamboat General Slocum) about the fire that will be released (Random House/Broadway Books) on June 10, just in time for the 99th anniv. of the tragedy. For more info, please visit my website www.general-slocum.com You’ll find lots of info about the fire (including photos) and additional info about other disasters in US history. In addition, if you look up Ship Ablaze on Amazon, it’ll likely bring up my Listmania lists of great books about fire and great books about disasters.
Thank you for your interest!
Ed O’Donnell

Cool! Thanks for peeking in here, and I will be first in line for your book!

I assume there will be some kind of memorial service the summer of '04?