Friday, June 26, 2015

The Lost City!

Frank Luzerne - The Lost City! (1872)

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The Chicago fire in October 1871 inspired a lot of journalism and personal accounts such as the ones in this early collection.  It's often been used as source material but can still catch a reader for the vivid accounts (possibly embellished a bit), poetry, prints, maps, lists and even some conspiracy theories (three mysterious men selling natural gas, secret revolutionaries with headquarters in Paris).  There's a lot of detail about the city and interestingly descriptions of recovery from the fire, including breakdowns of charitable contributions.

Who was Luzerne?  I can't find anything other than in connection to this book. The title page only says he was a Chicago resident and that the book was edited by author John G. Wells so that explains little.  Wells is described in the introduction to Fleming & Hamilton's The Crimean War As Seen by Those Who Reported It (2009) as "an obviously entrepreneurial New England publisher" who created a similar book for that war while a miscellany of other titles bear his name.  Most likely Wells wanted a book about the Chicago fire and somehow found Luzerne to compile and write it.