Common section

The Circus Fire: A True Story of an American Tragedy

The Circus Fire: A True Story of an American Tragedy

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 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.

Chapter 1. Cleveland, 1942

Chapter 2. July 4, 1944

Chapter 3. July 5, 1944

Chapter 4. July 6, 1944

Chapter 5. July 7, 1944

Chapter 6. July 8, 1944

Chapter 7. July 9, 1944

Chapter 8. July 10, 1944

Chapter 9. July 11-July 15, 1944

Chapter 10. July 15-July 31, 1944

Chapter 11. August-December, 1944

Chapter 12. 1945

Chapter 13. 1946-1950

Chapter 14. 1950

Chapter 15. 1950-1990

Chapter 16. 1990-1991

Chapter 17. 1991-1999