Synopses & Reviews
From the minute it openedandmdash;on Christmas Day in 1865andmdash;it was Chicagoandrsquo;s must-see tourist attraction, drawing more than half a million visitors each year. Families, visiting dignitaries, even school groups all made trips to the South Side to tour the Union Stock Yard. There they got a firsthand look at the cityandrsquo;s industrial prowess as they witnessed cattle, hogs, and sheep disassembled with breathtaking efficiency. At their height, the kill floors employed 50,000 workers and processed six hundred animals an hour, an astonishing spectacle of industrialized death.
Slaughterhouse tells the story of the Union Stock Yard, chronicling the rise and fall of an industrial district that, for better or worse, served as the public face of Chicago for decades. Dominic A. Pacyga is a guide like no otherandmdash;he grew up in the shadow of the stockyards, spent summers in their hog house and cattle yards, and maintains a long-standing connection with the working-class neighborhoods around them. Pacyga takes readers through the packinghouses as only an insider can, covering the rough and toxic life inside the plants and their lasting effects on the world outside. He shows how the yards shaped the surrounding neighborhoods and controlled the livelihoods of thousands of families. He looks at the Union Stock Yardand#39;s political and economic power and its sometimes volatile role in the cityandrsquo;s race and labor relations. And he traces its decades of mechanized innovations, which introduced millions of consumers across the country to an industrialized food system.
Although the Union Stock Yard closed in 1971, the story doesnandrsquo;t end there. Pacyga takes readers to present day, showing how the manufacturing spirit lives on. Ironically, today the site of the legendary andldquo;stockyard stenchandrdquo; is now home to some of Chicagoandrsquo;s most successful green agriculture companies.
Marking the hundred-and-fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the stockyards, Slaughterhouse is an engrossing story of one of the most importantandmdash;and deadliestandmdash;square miles in American history.
"Drawing readers in by focusing on the stories of individual Chicoans affected by a series of tragic events, Krist (The White Cascade) describes a Chicago that was 'push... to the edge of civic disintegration' by 12 days of crises in the summer of 1919. On Monday, July 21, an experimental Goodyear blimp flying over the densely populated downtown Loop district to promote an amusement park suddenly burst into flames and crashed into the Illinois Trust and Savings Bank, injuring 27 and killing 13. The next day, the six-year-old daughter of Scottish immigrant grocers was snatched and choked to death by a neighbor who buried her body in the basement of their apartment building. On Saturday, July 26, a highly regarded municipal court judge committed suicide by jumping from his City Hall chambers, and on Sunday, a black youth's death caused by a white bather at a whites'-only beach sparked a race riot on the South Side. As the rioting continued, a transit strike paralyzed Chicago on Tuesday, July 29, and endangering lives by playing politics, the controversial Mayor Big Bill Thompson dithered about calling in the National Guard to quell the violence. Krist serves up a solid, well-informed, and vibrant slice of urban history. Map." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
andquot;Pacyga is the great bard of Chicago-historian, raconteur, social critic. Slaughterhouse is a critically important book about one of the cityand#39;s epic neighborhoods.andquot;
andquot;For many people Henry Fordandrsquo;s 1913 Detroit assembly line is a symbol of technological triumph. This book shows that Chicagoandrsquo;s 1865 disassembly line was an earlier more complete wonder, rapidly transporting animals, keeping them healthy and watered, dividing them into a wide variety of of products, communicating ownership and destination, and keeping meticulous accounts of all the processes. The speed and dexterity were put on display, proudly exploiting labor, advertising efficiency, making Chicago incredibly wealthy. This is a stunning account of the growth, complexity, rewards, and costs of modernity.andquot;
andquot;Pacyga has taken as his subject a single square mile, a small patch of urban land on the south side of Chicago, and has told an epic storyandmdash;the rise of the Union Stockyards and Packingtown, their heyday as a great industrial complex and engine of modern America, their precipitous decline after World War II and their unexpected recent resurgence as a site of new industrial possibilities. It is a big story of rapid, and frequently unsettling, economic, technological, and social change, and Pacyga has told it in a vivid and compelling way.andquot;
andldquo;Pacyga has written an intimate, elegant, fascinating, and informative story of one of Americaandrsquo;s greatest industrial complexes. As Pacyga shows, the dismal, exploitative, vibrant, and contested histories of the stockyards and the meatpacking factories are illustrative of both the fractured dynamics of American industrial capitalism and the rise and fall of the great industrial city of Chicago. Slaughterhouse is vital reading for all concerned with urban, industrial, and social history.andrdquo;
andldquo;Ethan Michaeliand#39;s The Defender
is a rich, majestic, sweeping history, both of a newspaper and of a people. In these pages, Michaeli captures the degradation and exhilaration of black America in the twentieth century, and driving this story are a handful of men and women infused with incredible courage and a deep faith in journalismand#39;s power to seek justice.andrdquo;
andmdash;Alex Kotlowitz, author of There Are No Children Here.
andldquo;In the spring of 1905 Robert Abbott sat at a card table squeezed into a corner of a realtorandrsquo;s office on Chicagoandrsquo;s South Side to put together the first issue of a newspaper he called The Defender. In the 110 years since it has more than lived up to its name, its pages filled with searing reports of racial injustice and fierce editorials in support of its readersandrsquo; rights.and#160; Now Ethan Michaeli has recreated The Defenderandrsquo;s remarkable historyandmdash;and reminded us of the power of the press at its courageous best.andrdquo;
andmdash;Kevin Boyle, author of the National Book Award-winning Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights and Murder in the Jazz Age
andldquo;This is a major work of American historyandmdash;the compelling and richly-researched story of the legendary newspaper and the astonishing collection of history-makers whose lives are forever intertwined.andrdquo;
andmdash;Jonathan Alter, author of The Center Holds: Obama and his Enemies
andldquo;Here, at long last, is the story that needed to be told.and#160; Inand#160;The Defender, Ethan Michaeli has laid out the power and importance of a fearless newspaper in the struggle for black equality. Meticulously researched, engagingly written, Michaeliand#39;s landmark history of this storied institution, which has served at key moments as lens, interpreter, catalyst or voice for blacksandrsquo; full citizenship rights, will become an essential resource in African American cultural and political studies.andrdquo;
andmdash;Carol Anderson, Professor of African American Studies at Emory University, author of White Rage
andldquo;The story of the Chicago Defender is one of the great untold stories of black America andminus; if not the great story. At every crucial juncture, from the northern migration, to Pullman strikes to civil rights right up to Barack Obama, the Defender was there chronicling, advocating and building an entire civic, political and intellectual universe. It is remarkable to me that this book wasnandrsquo;t written until now and an absolute god-send that Ethan Michaeli has stepped in to fill the void.andrdquo;
andmdash;Chris Hayes, author of Twilight of the Elites, host of MSNBCandrsquo;s andldquo;All In with Chris Hayes.andrdquo;
andldquo;Ethan Michaeliandrsquo;s compelling book represents socialand#160;history at its finest. The Defender explores Americaandrsquo;s long struggle with raceand#160;through the unique lens of an essential and underappreciated Chicago newspaper at the center of it all.andrdquo;
andmdash;David Maraniss, author of the forthcoming Once in a Great City: A Detroit Story
and#160;andldquo;For more than a century, the South Side of Chicago has been a hub of African-American history, and throughout the years, that saga has been told through the pages of the Chicago Defender newspaper.and#160; In this compelling book, Ethan Michaeli shares the story of the Defender and the essential role it has played in Chicagoand#39;s black community and beyond.andrdquo;andmdash;David Axelrod, author of Believer: My Forty Years in Politics
andquot;With meticulous attention to detail and in immensely readable prose, Ethan Michaeli, who once worked for the paper, tells The Chicago Defenderand#39;s story and, through it, that of African Americans in the twentieth century. It is a masterful work that goes a long way toward explaining why we are where we are now.andquot;
andmdash;Jessica B.Harris, Professor of English, Queens College/ CUNY and author of High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey From Africa to America
andldquo;Just as the Defender has broken important journalistic ground time and again in itsand#39; storied history, author Ethan Michaeli is an original and intrepid force in Chicago media, having devoted his life to elevating and celebrating the silenced voices of Chicagoand#39;s public housing projects. Michaeli on the Defender is an unbeatable combination.andrdquo;
andmdash;Dave Isay, founder of StoryCorps, author of Listening is an Act of Love
andldquo;The Defender is the kind of superb nonfiction you donandrsquo;t see much anymoreandmdash;a big, fluidly written, marvelously researched story about fascinating people who shaped American culture. Ethan Michaeli has written a book that is as important as it is compulsively readable.andrdquo;
andmdash;Jonathan Eig, author of The Birth of the Pill
The masterfully told story of twelve volatile days in the life of Chicago, when an aviation disaster, a race riot, a crippling transit strike, and a sensational child murder transfixed and roiled a city already on the brink of collapse.
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.
Meticulously researched and expertly paced, City of Scoundrels captures the tumultuous birth of the modern American city, with all of its light and dark aspects in vivid relief.
Veteran reporter Ethan Michaeli tells the story of Chicagoandrsquo;s iconic black newspaper, the family and the journalists who made it great, and the hidden history of black America in the twentieth century.
andldquo;The story of the Chicago Defender is the story of race in the twentieth century.andrdquo;and#160; andmdash; Alex Kotlowitz, author of There Are No Children Here
Giving voice to the voiceless, the Chicago Defender had a reach and influence extending far beyond Chicago. The newspaper and the family behind it condemned Jim Crow, catalyzed the Great Migration, fostered the integration of the U.S. armed forces in the wake of World War II, and laid the groundwork for the civil rights movement. Over the years, the Defenderandrsquo;s staff included an unparalleled collection of writers, intellectuals, and activists: Ida B. Wells, Langston Hughes, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Jesse Jackson were among the better-known bylines, but there were hundreds of less celebrated reporters at the paper who braved lynch mobs and policemenandrsquo;s clubs to get their stories.
Through the depth of his research, veteran reporter Ethan Michaeli constructs a revelatory narrative of race in America. The Defender sheds unprecedented light on an entire civic, political, and intellectual universe whose legacy reverberates well into the twenty-first century.
An engrossing and startling history of Chicagoand#8217;s Union Stock Yard, Dominic Pacygaand#8217;s meticulous and fresh book addresses more than the rise and fall of the industrial district that for so long was a critical part of what defined Chicago, its immigrants, its economy, its environmental health (or lack thereof), and its politics. While Pacyga knows those aspects like few others doand#151;having grown up in the Back of the Yards neighborhood and worked in the stockyards himself as a young manand#151;he has here unearthed a history of gruesome spectacle amid the flowering of industrial modernity. A tourist attraction, an industrial marvel, and the crucible of our industrialized food system, the stockyards have long been a critical part of what made Chicago Chicagoand#151;and even today, innovation continues to flourish there, as new forms of agriculture and industry take shape on this charmed site.
About the Author
Dominic A. Pacyga is professor of history in the Department of Humanities, History, and Social Sciences at Columbia College Chicago. He is the author or coauthor of several books on Chicago, including Chicago: A Biography and Polish Immigrants and Industrial Chicago: Workers on the South Side, 1880andndash;1922, both published by the University of Chicago Press.
Table of Contents
Confronting the Modern in Chicagoandrsquo;s Square Mile
Facing the Modern World
From Swamp to Industrial Giant
3 Working in the Yards
The Move to the Modern
4 andldquo;Success Comes to Those Who Hustle Wiselyandrdquo;
The Emergence of the Greatest Livestock Market in the World
5 Slaughterhouse Blues
The Decline and Fall of the Union Stock Yard
6 Innovate for Efficiencyandmdash;Though with Less Stench
The Square Mile after the Union Stock Yard