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Firestorm at Peshtigo

A Town, Its People, and the Deadliest Fire in American History

Denise Gess and William Lutz

Holt Paperbacks

“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.

REVIEWS

Praise for Firestorm at Peshtigo

“Another stunning disaster read. Denise Gess and William Lutz strike a pitch-perfect balance between historical detail and writing style.” —The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“A heartbreaking narrative history that captures the inferno’s full horror.” —Raleigh News Observer

“Vivid and compelling history.” —The Boston Globe

“A hot read. The story is gripping and ghastly and true.” —The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Another stunning disaster read. Denise Gess and William Lutz strike a pitch-perfect balance between historical detail and writing style.” —The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“A heartbreaking narrative history that captures the inferno’s full horror.” —Raleigh News Observer

“Vivid and compelling history.” —The Boston Globe

“A hot read. The story is gripping and ghastly and true.” —The Philadelphia Inquirer

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Denise Gess and William Lutz

  • 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.
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    Firestorm at Peshtigo

    A Town, Its People, and the Deadliest Fire in American History

    Denise Gess and William Lutz

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    Holt Paperbacks

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