Ship Ablaze Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Ship Ablaze

On a warm spring day in June 1904, the steamboat "General Slocum" left its dock in New York City's East River, carrying members of a German-American church group on a holiday excursion to Long Island. Most of the passengers were poor, working-class citizens from a single neighborhood, and they were predominantly women and children, since the excursion took place on a weekday, when the men had to work. Within minutes after departing, the ship caught fire, and the combination of the speed with which the fire spread, the lack of adequate fire prevention equipment, the uselessness of the years-old lifejackets, and the incompetence of the crew led to the deaths of more than 1,000 people, the greatest loss of life in New York history prior to 9/11.
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The "General Slocum" fire was a tragedy in the truest sense of the word, and O'Donnell provides all of the details of this easily preventable disaster. In addition to providing a minute-by-minute account of the blaze and its aftermath, he offers insightful, sympathetic portraits of the various passengers on the trip, and he shows how the tragedy affected the families and their community and, ironically, how the disaster ended up having little effect on establishing laws and regulations that might have prevented other ship disasters.

The review of this Book prepared by James Keenley

Chapter Analysis of Ship Ablaze

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Kind Of History

Time of history:    -   20th century History of disaster/tragedy?    -   Yes Kind of disaster:    -   Boat/Dicaprio event Nationality?    -   American--Northeast

Subjects of this Historical Account

Is the portrayal sympathetic?    -   Sympathetic Intelligence of subject of history:    -   Smart


United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Northeast Big City?    -   Yes City:    -   New York

Writing Style

How much gore?    -   6 () How fast-paced is the book?    -   8 () Book makes you feel...    -   depressed/sad How much focus on stories of individuals?    -   Focuses on brief history of a lot of players Pictures/Illustrations?    -   A handful Maps necessary?    -   Necessary maps provided Length of book    -   350-400 pages How much emphasis on small details?    -   7 ()

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Edward T. O'Donnell Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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