Big Top Burning: The True Story of an Arsonist, a Missing Girl, and The Greatest Show On Earth Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2018-08-18 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 17 user ratings

"I’ve recently finished a few novels with a Circus theme and this was a nice read to pick up afterwards.

The circus has such a rich history and plays an important part in American history. The book reads more like a research project or documentary. It wasn’t an emotional read for me, I didn’t get completely drawn into the different stories even though I wanted to. They were compelling, interesting, and factual but I didn’t feel emotionally attached to any of it. Perhaps it was the style of writing, I just don’t know. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a good book, it’s a great book actually and the stories within the pages are important.

Big Top Burning includes numerous photos from the era that add to the authenticity of the book. The book would make a great addition to a classroom reference shelf and a perfect gift for someone who is passionate about the circus.
" said.

"This is a compelling read, well-suited to the budding true crime reader. I had never heard of the Hartford circus fire, and this book provides a fascinating look at the tragedy (crime?) and makes me want to find out more. The author does a commendable job of setting up the backdrop to the disaster and introducing key players before relating the events of the fire and its terrible aftermath. The second half of the book delves into an unsolvable true crime narrative examining the potential for arson and the mystery of a little girl who died in the fire and was never identified with 100% certainty. More questions remain than answers, but this book gives the reader an excellent introduction to the ways in which small missteps can add up to a massive tragedy, as well as the unreliability of crime solving (kind of a junior Serial podcast style story, exploring the unfortunate nature of trying to solve a mystery after much time has passed). " said.

" It was a quick read. I thought it was interesting to read first hand accounts and learn about the tools (or lack thereof) used to investigate. It is a sad true story. " said.

" A short and to the point report of the tragedy. Although written for young adults, the recounting of this fire is packed with details and doesn't believe wander far afield with extraneous information. " said.

" I didn't realize this was a book for middle grade readers. I could tell the author did a lot of research on the topic but the way it was laid out more like a novel than research didn't really appeal to me. However, I can see how it would make it more interesting for middle grade readers and I think it is a book that younger audiences will enjoy. " said.

" Just finished this young adult book about the Hartford, CT Ringling Brother's and Barnum Bailey Circus Fire. Was very well written about such a tragic event. Not to graphic but tells enough of the story to get the story across. If you want to learn more about this horrific story this is a good book to start off with. If you want further details about this fire I would suggest Stewart O'Nan's book The Circus Fire. " said.

" A book that shows how historical research can read like a detective story. This impeccably researched work of narrative nonfiction draws readers deep into a mysterious arson case, leading readers to examine evidence and draw conclusions. The author takes a difficult historical event and presents it to young readers in a way that invites empathy while encouraging a passion for historical investigation. " said.

" Big Top Burning is a well researched book about the Ringling Brothers Circus fire in Hartford, CT in 1944. Questions still linger about that fire, but the author lays out all the evidence and lets the reader decide. A sad story to be sure that will raise questions of safety. Pairing this with Circus Mirnadus which also came out this year to share the similarities of maintaining fire retardant tents. " said.

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