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Chicago History

Book review: “Dorothy Day: Dissenting Voice of the American Century” by John Loughery and Blythe Randolph

    Dorothy Day — that radical of 20th century radicals, that voice of conscience in the face of a self-centered, self-indulgent, greedy American culture, that embracer of the neediest, weakest, most damaged of the poor — is identified with New York City. After all, it was at the southern tip of Manhattan in worn-out slums (now deeply…

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Book review: “The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair, adapted and illustrated by Kristina Gehrmann, translated by Ivanka Hahnenberger

  Kristina Gehrmann’s graphic novel version of Upton Sinclair’s 1906 novel The Jungle is suitably gritty and oppressive, but probably not ugly enough. I’m not sure it would be possible for this kind of illustrative work to capture the visceral angst of Lithuanian immigrant Jurgis Rudkus and his extended family, new to Chicago, new to the Stockyards,…

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Book review: “Binga: The Rise and Fall of Chicago’s First Black Banker” by Don Hayner

  A hallmark of the black nationalism movement in the 1960s was the idea of African-Americans patronizing African-American businesses. This approach with its pull-ourselves-up-by-the-bootstraps subtext has been a prominent tenet for many African-American leaders ever since.  But its roots go far back, nearly to the time of the Civil War. Indeed, in the early 20th…

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