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On This Day in Chicago History

On This Day in Chicago History

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New York Times • Times Critics Top Books of 2021
New York Times Bestseller
Best Books of the Year • 
Washington Post, TIME, NPR, Oprah Daily, Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, Kansas City Independent, Los Angeles Public Library, Washington Independent Review of Books, Spy, Audile, Biblioracle, AbeBooks

The essential, sweeping story of Juneteenth’s integral importance to American history, as told by a Pulitzer Prize–winning historian and Texas native.


Weaving together American history, dramatic family chronicle, and searing episodes of memoir, Annette Gordon-Reed’s On Juneteenth provides a historian’s view of the country’s long road to Juneteenth, recounting both its origins in Texas and the enormous hardships that African-Americans have endured in the century since, from Reconstruction through Jim Crow and beyond. All too aware of the stories of cowboys, ranchers, and oilmen that have long dominated the lore of the Lone Star State, Gordon-Reed―herself a Texas native and the descendant of enslaved people brought to Texas as early as the 1820s―forges a new and profoundly truthful narrative of her home state, with implications for us all.

Think you know Chicago? If you are thinking of Al Capone, the L, the Cubs, Barack Obama or the Great Fire of 1871, then you are remembering the highlights from the tour bus. Here's the rest of the story, day by day. Chicago opened the first blood bank, invented the vacuum cleaner and sent a bowling ball around the world. One high school football game drew 120,000 people. Chicagoans fought nineteen years over the name of a street. For fifty years, they saved a gallows for an escaped killer. And those are just some of the stories...


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