Chicago reinvents itself after the Great Fire, turning disaster into triumph and casting itself as a hero in the modern struggle against adversity.
"A very provocative essay on the subject of what might be termed civic belief, those secular myths by which society understands itself... A very thoughtful work that is particularly valuable in these times." -- Thomas Hine, New York Times Book Review ADVANCE PRAISE "A solid mix of scholarship and speculation. Miller has revealed to me a lot I didn't know about the struggle between civic fantasy and architectural ambition that led to the reinvention of Chicago. It's an exemplary modern tale, this careful study of catastrophe and its exploitation." -- Philip Roth "Ross Miller has written a vivid and important piece of Americana, a fine contribution to our social history. I read with pleasure and profit." -- Irving Howe "[Miller's] analysis of the meaning of the Great Fire, and of the crucial decades of rebuilding, is the kind of social/cultural history that can revive your faith in the future of criticism in America." -- Frank McConnell