• City of Scoundrels

  • The 12 Days of Disaster That Gave Birth to Modern Chicago
  • By: Gary Krist
  • Narrated by: Rob Shapiro
  • Length: 9 hrs and 34 mins
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (130 ratings)

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City of Scoundrels

By: Gary Krist
Narrated by: Rob Shapiro
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Publisher's Summary

When 1919 began, the city of Chicago seemed on the verge of transformation. Modernizers had an audacious, expensive plan to turn the city from a brawling, unglamorous place into "the Metropolis of the World". But just as the dream seemed within reach, pandemonium broke loose and the city’s highest ambitions were suddenly under attack by the same unbridled energies that had given birth to them in the first place.

It began on a balmy Monday afternoon when a blimp in flames crashed through the roof of a busy downtown bank, incinerating those inside. Within days, a racial incident at a hot, crowded South Side beach spiraled into one of the worst urban riots in American history, followed by a transit strike that paralyzed the city. Then, when it seemed as if things could get no worse, police searching for a six-year-old girl discovered her body in a dark North Side basement.

City of Scoundrels captures the tumultuous birth of the modern American city, with all of its light and dark aspects in vivid relief.

©2012 Gary Krist (P)2012 Random House
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

"[An] eager narrative that delivers vivid reading." ( Kirkus Reviews)

What listeners say about City of Scoundrels

Average Customer Ratings
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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great History of a Great City

I loved every detailed moment of this fascinating tour de force. There are times that you can feel the heat and wish for just a hint of a breeze off the lake. Some of the characters will make you cringe as with all great cities, Chicago is known for political corruption on a grand scale, but the sleaze might just make you squirm. I am very happy to say there are some good characters too, thank goodness. Get ready for a trip through history and let this wonderful city envelope you in all it's moods.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Kind of a slow start but a big finish

I absolutely loved the story! It took a little bit to get to the meat of it but once it gets to the 12 days in the title it's a whirlwind of a story. Highly recommended read.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Crashed like a Blimp

Krist wrote a gripping prologue but then the narrative crashed to the ground on the first page of the first chapter. Bogged down by detail, it is dry and dull. All the helium leaked out of the story and it never took off again.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating

Krist is a master at weaving together different events to create a whole in this work and his others — especially for me The Mirage Factory.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent Listen. Detailed. Foundational.

Having been born in Cook County Illinois and raised elsewhere, listening to this audiobook helped bring to fore on the backstory of modern Chicago.

The first chapters of Part 1 detailing the July 1919 blimp crash disaster into a bank and then the foundation-laying stories of other events sets up nicely the gripping details of Part 2's riots, strikes, and political machinations over 12 days that indeed shape the city of Chicago as we see it has grown into. Although Part 1 can be a little tedious at times with details after the blimp disaster description, be patient as the payoff comes alive in Part 2.

This is the second book by Gary Krist I've read/listened to - the first being the excellent White Cascade. I am about to start Empire of Sin and look forward to more excellent documentary story telling. Highly recommend.

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A Great Snapshot of Chicago at a Critical Moment in its History

This book depicts a fascinating yet problematic few days in the history of Chicago of which most lifelong residents, like myself, are probably unaware. I will never walk over the Michigan Avenue bridge again without thinking of Big Bill Thompson.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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Tough deciding between 3⭐ & 4⭐

Fantastic opening chapter. Bogs slightly while filling in the background. Then picks back up. Shapiro is a good reader, but not.. um, let's say not one makes his own mark on the story. Which, as I consider it, with non fiction, that's not a bad thing. Is the author's sub-title premise proven? Debatable. Still an interesting read /listen, not a waste of time.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Appropriate for our times

Reminds me of Trump and his presidential start, why don't we learn from past mistakes?

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CITY OF SCOUNDRELS

If you could sum up City of Scoundrels in three words, what would they be?

ACCURATELY, HISTORICAL, ACCOUNTS

What other book might you compare City of Scoundrels to and why?

DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY - ERIK LARSON
(Dealt with Chicago at the turn of the century, but with different things!)

Which scene was your favorite?

TOO MANY, TO SAY. MAYOR WAS A REAL "CREEP!"

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

CHICAGO- 12 DAYS and HOW THEY SURVIVED IT!

Any additional comments?

EXCELLENT READ, IF YOU'RE INTO HISTORICAL NON-FICTION 😀

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

You have to be from Chicago and love its history

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

If you like Chicago history then this is for you. Otherwise its just names and dull events

Has City of Scoundrels turned you off from other books in this genre?

What genre is it?

Have you listened to any of Rob Shapiro’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No

What character would you cut from City of Scoundrels?

The author

Any additional comments?

Skip this one if you seek entertainment