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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » The Day Wall Street Exploded: A Story of America in Its First Age of Terror » User review

Timely reminder of a forgotten crime

  • Feb 16, 2009
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As it becomes more apparent that America's "war on terror" really may be the generational conflict some commentators were predicting shortly after September 11, perhaps historians' minds are turning more to similar periods of uncertainty and generalized threat in American life? It would seem that way, given that a few months ago saw the release of American Lightning: Terror, Mystery, the Birth of Hollywood, and the Crime of the Century, Howard Blum's well-done re-introduction to us of the bombing of the Los Angeles Times building in 1910, and now we have Beverly Gage's "The Day Wall Street Exploded," about a violent attack on America's financial center a decade later. While it might be too much to call "The Day..." a sequel of sorts to the earlier book, the two could certainly be two volumes in a series, and it works well to read the two together. Many of the same personalities appear in each, and the fundamental movements and trends at work -- labor unrest, financial centralization, fear of immigrants and radicals -- are at work in both. People interested in one of these books will certainly want to check out the other.

Gage has done a fine job here with research and reporting. She is somewhat less willing than Blum was to try to interpret her subjects' thoughts and motivations, but her ability to tell her story does not suffer because of this. For a look at this earlier, almost forgotten, period of "terror" in American life (or certain parts of it, anyway), "The Day Wall Street Exploded" is not only a worthwhile resource to turn to, but one with some obvious current application as well.

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More The Day Wall Street Exploded: ... reviews
review by . March 09, 2009
So, up front you should know that I haven't finished this book and likely won't. I've gotten two-thirds of the way into it and I give up. It's completely failing to grip me, and I have no interest in finishing it.    I'd gone into this book expecting a nice non-fiction crime story, talking about the particulars of a very nasty terrorist attack. I'd expected to read all about the case, how it happened, who was behind it, the investigation, etc.    Sadly, what …
review by . February 05, 2009
In the aftermath of the destruction of the twin towers of the World Trade Center by terrorist acts, it is easy to forget that terrorism has a long and convoluted history in the United States. For decades in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, foreign-born individuals came to the United States and planted bombs to further their social, economic and political agendas. A great deal of this activity was intertwined with the labor movement as it fought a vicious battle with the wealthy …
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Andrew S. Rogers ()
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About this book


Just after noon on September 16, 1920, as hundreds of workers poured onto Wall Street for their lunchtime break, a horse-drawn cart packed with dynamite exploded in a spray of metal and fire, turning the busiest corner of the financial center into a war zone. Thirty-nine people died and hundreds more lay wounded, making the Wall Street explosion the worst terrorist attack to that point in U.S. history. InThe Day Wall Street Exploded, Beverly Gage tells the story of that once infamous but now largely forgotten event.

Take a Look at Wall Street Political CartoonsPolitical cartoons in 1920 reflected public perceptions of the attack on Wall Street and its aftermath. Cartoonists directed their satire towards the villains of the age: communists, anarchists, and--according to one cartoonist--greedy employers. These images are featured in the decorative endpapers ofThe Day Wall Street Exploded. (Click on any image to enlarge).

December 17, 1921

New York Daily News
September 17, 1920

Chicago Tribune
Date Unknown
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ISBN-10: 019514824X
ISBN-13: 978-0195148244
Author: Beverly Gage
Genre: History
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
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