The Day Wall Street Exploded: A Story of America in Its First Age of Terror

The Day Wall Street Exploded: A Story of America in Its First Age of Terror

by Beverly Gage
     
 

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"On September 16, 1920, as the bells of Trinity Church chimed the noon hour and hundreds poured onto Wall Street for their lunchtime break, a bomb on a horse-drawn cart exploded in a lethal spray of metal and fire, transforming the busiest corner of New York's financial district into a war zone. Thirty-eight people died in the blast and scores lay wounded, making it… See more details below

Overview

"On September 16, 1920, as the bells of Trinity Church chimed the noon hour and hundreds poured onto Wall Street for their lunchtime break, a bomb on a horse-drawn cart exploded in a lethal spray of metal and fire, transforming the busiest corner of New York's financial district into a war zone. Thirty-eight people died in the blast and scores lay wounded, making it the nation's worst terrorist attack until the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995." "In The Day Wall Street Exploded, Beverly Gage gives us the full story of the "outrage," as it was called, from the flash of detonation to the slow-burn investigation that followed. To many, the bombing's target came as no surprise. For years political radicals had made Wall Street and its excesses the focus of their struggle against injustice in America. Anarchists, Wobblies, Bolsheviks, socialists: different as their agendas and ideologies were, they united in their rage against the plutocrats and oligarchs, the Morgans and Rockefellers who controlled the levers of financial power. Expected or not, the explosion's impact was immediate and far-ranging. It was an attack against American exceptionalism, a blow to the trumpeted gains of the Progressive Era, and a setback to America's seemingly inevitable ascendancy in the post-World War I global order." But who was responsible? Cracking the case became a high-stakes affair on which reputations were made and destroyed. Based on thousands of pages of federal documents, The Day Wall Street Exploded offers a thrilling historical detective saga, tracing the hunt for the perpetrators as far as Italy and the new Soviet nation.

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Editorial Reviews

Kevin Baker
Beverly Gage…has brought the bombing to life again in her outstanding first book. The Day Wall Street Exploded describes in detail both the bombing itself and the hunt for the perpetrators, but Gage also does us the great good service of placing it in the wider history of industrial warfare that once proliferated in America.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

On September 16, 1920, 81 years before 9/11, America experienced its first modern terrorist attack, a car bomb in the heart of New York's financial district that killed dozens, injured hundreds and was never solved. Writer and historian Gage presents a gripping account of class war and violence during the turn of the 20th century with deep resonance in the current state of the Union. A long time coming, 1919 saw a series of strikes sweep the country-including policemen, steel workers, miners, and a five-day general strike in Seattle-accompanied by a bombing campaign; 30 mail bombs were sent to prominent financiers, industrialists, and politicians in April 1919 alone. FBI director William J. Flynn, head of the Wall Street bombing investigation, believed members of an anti-capitalist anarchist sect were to blame, and sought unsuccesfully to condemn them with flimsy evidence (prompting muckraker Upton Sinclair to label Flynn a "self interested liar"). Weaving the story of the explosion and botched investigation with a masterful account of labor unrest over preceding decades, this is a highly relevant, hard to put down history of terror and civil liberties in America.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From the Publisher
"Outstanding."—New York Times Book Review

"Ms. Gage is a storyteller...she leaves it to her readers to draw their own connections as they digest her engageing narrative."—The New York Times

"Gage has produced an uncommonly intelligent, witty and vibrant account. She has performed a real service in presenting such a complicated case in such a fair and balanced way."—San Francisco Chronicle

"Writer and historian Gage presents a gripping account of class war and violence during the turn of the 20th century. Weaving the story of the explosion and botched investigation with a masterful account of labor unrest over preceding demecades, this is a highly relevant, hard to put down history of terror and civil liberties in America."—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

"The best account of the vicious 1920 cluster-bombing on Wall Street."—Mike Wallace, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898

"The fearful politics of the last decade are a tale foretold in this extraordinary history of the original 'war on terrorism' and its sinister legacies."-Mike Davis, author of Buda's Wagon: A Brief History of the Car Bomb

"Like all good historians, Beverly Gage is a great story-teller, and what a timely tale she has to tell in The Day Wall Street Exploded. With subtlety, precision, and in a captivating prose style, she recalls for us that moment in September 1920 when 'a bomb planted on a horse-drawn wagon exploded into the lunchtime crowd at Wall and Broad.' Her story begins with the deed, but goes far beyond it to describe the nationwide search for the responsible 'terrorists' and the short- and long-range effects on American politics, society, and culture of that extended manhunt."—David Nasaw, author of Andrew Carnegie and finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for The Chief: The Life and Times of William Randolph Hearst

"Brisk, suspenseful and richly documented..."—The Chicago Tribune

"Beverly Gage has written a richly detailed and superbly rendered history of one of the worst—and most neglected—terrorist bombings in American history... Gage's account...reads like a great detective novel."—Journal of American History

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199743728
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
01/28/2009
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
3 MB

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