Chicago’s Great Fire: The Destruction and Resurrection of an Iconic American City Audiobook, by Carl Smith Play Audiobook Sample

Chicago’s Great Fire: The Destruction and Resurrection of an Iconic American City Audiobook

Chicago’s Great Fire: The Destruction and Resurrection of an Iconic American City Audiobook, by Carl Smith Play Audiobook Sample
FlexPass™ Price: $12.95
$9.95 for new members!(Includes UNLIMITED podcast listening) Add to Cart learn more
Regular Price: $19.95 Add to Cart
Read By: David de Vries Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Listen Time: at 1.0x Speed 7.00 hours at 1.5x Speed 5.25 hours at 2.0x Speed Release Date: October 2020 Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download ISBN: 9781664783867

Quick Stats About this Audiobook

Total Audiobook Chapters:


Longest Chapter Length:

62:19 minutes

Shortest Chapter Length:

01:45 minutes

Average Chapter Length:

35:25 minutes

Audiobooks by this Author:


Publisher Description

From an acclaimed historian, the full and authoritative story of one of the most iconic disasters in American history, told through the vivid memories of those who experienced it.

Between October 8–10, 1871, much of the city of Chicago was destroyed by one of the most legendary urban fires in history. Incorporated as a city in 1837, Chicago had grown at a breathtaking pace in barely three decades, from just over 4,000 in 1840 to greater than 330,000 at the time of the fire. Built hastily, the city was largely made of wood. Once it began in the barn of Catherine and Patrick O’Leary, the fire quickly grew out of control, twice jumping branches of the Chicago River on its relentless northeastward path through the city’s three divisions. Close to one of every three Chicago residents was left homeless and more were instantly unemployed, though the death toll was miraculously low.

Remarkably, no carefully researched popular history of the Great Chicago Fire has been written until now, despite it being one of the most cataclysmic disasters in US history. Building the story around memorable characters, both known to history and unknown, including the likes of General Philip Sheridan and Robert Todd Lincoln, eminent Chicago historian Carl Smith chronicles the city’s rapid growth and place in America’s post-Civil War expansion. The dramatic story of the fire—revealing human nature in all its guises—became one of equally remarkable renewal, as Chicago quickly rose back up from the ashes thanks to local determination and the world’s generosity and faith in Chicago’s future.

As we approach the fire’s 150th anniversary, Carl Smith’s compelling narrative at last gives this epic event its full and proper place in our national chronicle.

Download and start listening now!

“In a somber voice, David DeVries narrates this authoritative and informative history…DeVries’s steady, no-nonsense delivery explains the growth of this city, the minute details of the fire, the subsequent feeding and rehousing of survivors, and the extensive rebuilding…DeVries denotes newspaper reports by shifting his tone, contrasting that part of the account.”

— AudioFile 


  • “A notable history, rich in detail, and powered by a narrative that moves at the speed of the galloping flames.”

    — Scott Turow, #1 New York Times bestselling author
  • “Smith drops readers right into the action, transforming us into virtual citizens caught up in the conflagration and its aftermath…and the incredible energy and drive that enabled Chicagoans to rebuild.”

    — Booklist (starred review)
  • “Stunningly well-researched, this book fully examines a pivotal moment in Chicago’s history.”

    — Library Journal (starred review)
  • “A definitive retelling of one of America’s ‘most fabled disasters.’”

    — Publishers Weekly
  • “A vivid history revealing hidden aspects of supposedly well-known events.”

    — Kirkus Reviews
  • “Carl Smith has written the definitive work on the Great Chicago Fire—the context, the stories, and the aftermath.”

    — Gary T. Johnson, president, Chicago History Museum
  • “Bracing and impeccably written…Smith captures beautifully Chicagoans’ hubris in building their great flammable city and their resilience as they survived the unthinkable.”

    — Daniel Immerwahr, author of How to Hide an Empire
  • “A gripping description…filled with the recollections of men, women, and children…Smith is a master at taking well-known events and making them new.”

    — Ann Keating, author of Rising Up from Indian Country

Chicago’s Great Fire Listener Reviews

Be the first to write a review about this audiobook!

About Carl Smith

Carl Smith is Franklyn Bliss Snyder Professor of English and American Studies and Professor of History, Emeritus, at Northwestern University. His books include Chicago and the American Literary Imagination, 1880–1920; Urban Disorder and the Shape of Belief: The Great Chicago Fire, the Haymarket Bomb, and the Model Town of Pullman; The Plan of Chicago: Daniel Burnham and the Remaking of the American City; and City Water, City Life: Water and the Infrastructure of Ideas in Urbanizing Philadelphia, Boston, and Chicago.

About David de Vries

David de Vries, an Earphones Award-winning audiobook narrator and veteran stage actor and director, spent three years in the cast of Wicked and was the last Lumiere in the Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast. He has also appeared in numerous films and voiced commercial campaigns for companies large and small, including American Express, AT&T, UPS, Motorola, Georgia-Pacific, Delta Airlines, Coca Cola, and Ford, among others. He can be seen in a number of feature films, including The Founder, The Accountant, Captain America: Civil War, and Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. On television, his credits include House of Cards, Nashville, and Halt and Catch Fire.