City of Scoundrels

Praise for City of Scoundrels: The 12 Days of Disaster that Gave Birth to Modern Chicago


9780307454300A New York Times Bestseller

The masterfully told story of 12 volatile days in the life of Chicago, when an aviation disaster, a race riot, a crippling transit strike, and a sensational child murder roiled a city already on the brink of collapse.

City of Scoundrels is a lavishly intricate, well-paced account of a great city lashed to the breaking point by a political perfect storm. [Krist] renders a nuanced portrait of a mayor most often remembered as a bombastic demagogue (and wannabe cowboy) at the head of a crooked machine . . . Above all, City of Scoundrels freshly illuminates how the riots of 1919 were a turning point for African-Americans.”—James McManus, New York Times Book Review

“A page-turner that offers resonant insights . . . the way the disaster plays out, with Krist deftly cutting among multiple perspectives and eyewitness accounts that he has unearthed, is so spectacular and vivid that you’re picturing how James Cameron might film it all before you’ve reached page 20 . . . City of Scoundrels hits with the force of Lake Michigan’s winds.”—Mark Caro, Washington Post

“Fast-paced . . . Krist handles these overlapping events with remarkable skill, weaving what in less-talented hands could have been a tangle of incidents and anecdotes into a driving narrative. City of Scoundrels is utterly absorbing.”—Kevin Boyle, Chicago Tribune 

“A raucous, briskly paced, thoroughly American tale that provides moments of great comedy and tragedy . . . City of Scoundrels reminds us how rich and enthralling reality can be in the hands of a great storyteller.”—John Wilwol, Weekly Standard

“From the first riveting pages in “City of Scoundrels,” author Gary Krist masterfully sets the reader down into the vortex of this urban maelstrom…While bringing these events to life, Krist deftly juggles several story lines by using some of the city’s most famous personalities of the past centuries.”—Stephen J, Lyons, Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“In his new book, historian Gary Krist takes a closer look at one of the most epic series of crises to ever hit an American city. City of Scoundrels is a crackling history, full of expert storytelling from the very first page.”—Randy Dotinga, Christian Science Monitor

“Although Gary Krist’s City of Scoundrels is nonfiction, it reads like a novel, with an hour-by-hour accounting of how each disaster unfolded. Krist ably bares the complicated, corrupt politics of Illinois, showing how city and state officials scrambled to deal with each problem and turn it to their own advantage. Set against the backdrop of Prohibition, the ending of World War I, and the great influenza epidemic, City of Scoundrels gives a vivid glimpse at 12 horrifying days in an already difficult era. The lives of Chicagoans, both famous and not, would never be the same again.”—Jessica Howard, Shelf Awareness