To Sleep with the Angels : The Story of a Fire
Overview - On a grey winter day in December 1958, one of the deadliest fires in American history took the lives of ninety-two children and three nuns at a Catholic elementary school on Chicago's West Side. The blaze at Our Lady of the Angels School shocked the nation. Read more...
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More About To Sleep with the Angels by David Cowan; John Kuenster
On a grey winter day in December 1958, one of the deadliest fires in American history took the lives of ninety-two children and three nuns at a Catholic elementary school on Chicago's West Side. The blaze at Our Lady of the Angels School shocked the nation. It left many families physically and psychologically scarred for life, destroyed a close-knit working-class neighborhood, and sowed popular suspicion of the church hierarchy and city fathers. No one was ever prosecuted for setting the fire; to this day it remains an officially unsolved mystery. In To Sleep with the Angels, two veteran journalists tell the moving story of the fire and its consequences. David Cowan and John Kuenster have worked for years, talking with hundreds of sources and ferreting our documents to reconstruct a minute-by-minute narrative of the tragedy and the sorrows of its aftermath. It is a story of ordinary people caught up in a mind-numbing disaster. In gripping detail, the authors describe the fear, desperation, and panic that prevailed among children, teachers, firefighters, and parents in and around the stricken school building on that cold Monday afternoon. Beyond the flames, the story of the fire at Our Lady of the Angels became an enigma whose mystery has deepened with time: its cause was never officially explained despite evidence that it had been intentionally set by a troubled student at the school. The authors reveal for the first time this youngster's "confession" and the decision by a local judge not to pursue the case against him. The Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago also refused to press an investigation, preferring to label the fire a terrible "accident."