Firestorm at Peshtigo: A Town, Its People, and the Deadliest Fire in American History

Firestorm at Peshtigo: A Town, Its People, and the Deadliest Fire in American History

by William Lutz, Denise Gess

Paperback(First Edition)

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Firestorm at Peshtigo: A Town, Its People, and the Deadliest Fire in American History by William Lutz, Denise Gess

"Novelist Denise Gess and historian William Lutz brilliantly restore the event to its rightful place in the forefront of American historical imagination." —Chicago Sun-Times

On October 8, 1871—the same night as the Great Chicago Fire—the lumber town of Peshtigo, Wisconsin, was struck with a five-mile-wide wall of flames, borne on tornado-force winds of one hundred miles per hour that tore across more than 2,400 square miles of land, obliterating the town in less than one hour and killing more than two thousand people.

At the center of the blowout were politically driven newsmen Luther Noyes and Franklin Tilton, money-seeking lumber baron Isaac Stephenson, parish priest Father Peter Pernin, and meteorologist Increase Lapham. In Firestorm at Peshtigo, Denise Gess and William Lutz vividly re-create the personal and political battles leading to this monumental natural disaster, and deliver it from the lost annals of American history.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780805072938
Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 06/01/2003
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 459,737
Product dimensions: 5.41(w) x 8.33(h) x 0.84(d)

About the Author

Denise Gess, author of two critically acclaimed novels, is the visiting assistant professor of fiction writing at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington.

William Lutz is a professor of English at Rutgers University and the author of fifteen books, including the bestseller Doublespeak. They live in Philadelphia.

Table of Contents

Dramatis PersonaeXIII
Part 1False Prophets3
Part 2Eden Burns63
Part 3Revelations127

What People are Saying About This

Philip Gerard

Firestorm at Peshtigo captures the reader's imagination like a fine novel and doesn't let go: The story is not only haunting but devastatingly true-- a heartbreaking tale of memorable, real characters facing the challenge of their lives, written in a clean, deft, and lyrical style. You do not just read this book-- you experience the heat and fear, as if watching the fiery horizon sweep down over your own life. Masterfully done.
— author of Secret Soldiers: The Story of World War II's Heroic Army of Deception


A vivid telling of the most spectacular epic in American wildfire. New material and the best of the historical record make for an authoritative, fresh account of an overlooked epic.
— author of Fire on the Mountain

David Cowan

Finally an account has been written that accurately chronicles our country's deadliest natural disaster. Not only does this long overdue book do justice to the victims of the Peshtigo fire, it closes what up to now had been a gaping void in the annals of American history.
— author of Great Chicago Fires and To Sleep with the Angels: The Story of a Fire

Neil Hanson

A gripping, thought-provoking read. Gess and Lutz tell their terrifying tale in forensic detail, setting the often heart-breaking stories of the individuals and small communities engulfed by the firestorm against the human cupidity and stupidity of a "natural" disaster that was at least partly man-made.
— author of The Custom of the Sea and The Great Fire of London in that Apocalyptic Year 1666

David Bradley

This is history, accurate and well-researched. It's also story-telling, rich and intricate. But it's also a fable for our time, a tragic metaphor of thoughtless greed and heedless growth and natural retribution.
— author of The Chaneysville Incident

Robert V. Remini

This is truly an exciting and marvelously told story of an incredible firestorm that swept through a lumber town in Wisconsin in 1871, the same night as the more famous Chicago fire. Thoroughly researched and written with attention to the many individuals who struggled to save their town, a reader is quickly caught up in this riveting story and until the final page is locked into discovering what happened next. In view of the horror that is engulfing Colorado today this book has a special relevance for our time.

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