The Cocoanut Grove Fire

Stephanie Schorow

For many Bostonians, Saturday, November 28, 1942, was supposed to be about college football. The undefeated Boston College team had only to beat lightly regarded Holy Cross to assure a trip to the Sugar Bowl.

But Holy Cross stunned BC 55–12 and by midnight Boston was faced with a far greater shock. Four hundred ninety-two people—including many BC and Holy Cross fans, not to mention soldiers and sailors on leave—had perished in flames at the Cocoanut Grove, in the worst nightclub fire in U.S. history.

The tragedy was over in a matter of minutes as flames and fumes swept through the two-story boite, and the exits that weren't locked were jammed with panicked patrons. Some escaped through luck, fate, or guile (a busboy stuck his head in an ice cream bucket to avoid the fumes), but many more died horrible deaths.

"Even today," Schorow writes in her first book, Boston on Fire, "the Boston Fire Department continually fields requests for documents on the blaze. Fire buffs still debate its true cause; lawyers, doctors, and building contractors continue to work under its impact. For most Bostonians, however, the true story of the Cocoanut Grove is its devastating effect on the hundreds of individuals who were caught in a maelstrom of heat, smoke, panic, and pain—individuals out for a night of fun who were doomed by greed and thoughtlessness."

In this book, Schorow continues her groundbreaking research, bringing more evidence than ever to bear on a tragedy that is as controversial today as it was unthinkable in 1942.

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About the Author: Stephanie Schorow has been a reporter for the Boston Herald for over ten years. She has also worked for the Associated Press and at newspapers in Connecticut, Idaho, Utah, and Missouri. A native of Chicago, she now lives in Medford, Massachusetts.
SpecificationsApplewood Books, 2005
5 1/2" x 8 1/2" softcover
112 pages, 15 black & white photos
ISBN: 1-889833-88-6

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