Death in the Air

Death in the Air

The True Story of A Serial Killer, the Great London Smog, and the Strangling of A City

Book - 2017
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In winter 1952, London automobiles and thousands of coal-burning hearths belched particulate matter into the air. But the smog that descended on December 5th of 1952 was different; it was a type that held the city hostage for five long days. Mass transit ground to a halt, criminals roamed the streets, and 12,000 people died. That same month, there was another killer at large in London: John Reginald Christie, who murdered at least six women. In a braided narrative that draws on extensive interviews, never-before-published material, and archival research, Dawson captivatingly recounts the intersecting stories of the these two killers and their longstanding impact on modern history.
Publisher: New York, NY :, Hachette Books,, 2017.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780316506861
Characteristics: viii, 341 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
Summary: In winter 1952, London automobiles and thousands of coal-burning hearths belched particulate matter into the air. But the smog that descended on December 5th of 1952 was different; it was a type that held the city hostage for five long days. Mass transit ground to a halt, criminals roamed the streets, and 12,000 people died. That same month, there was another killer at large in London: John Reginald Christie, who murdered at least six women. In a braided narrative that draws on extensive interviews, never-before-published material, and archival research, Dawson captivatingly recounts the intersecting stories of the these two killers and their longstanding impact on modern history.

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IV27HUjg
Dec 03, 2017

I found it an interesting read. The WSJ review points out the previous reviewers comments, however I think it's a worthwhile read if one can navigate through those particular shortcomings. The historical value is good, illuminating how slow Britain was to respond to the imminent hazards of air quality & health hazards. Due to the use of cheap coal 'nutty slack' in such a densely packed city over decades of use met up with changing air currents was the perfect storm, thousands died of respiratory ailments. 1953 - was this the early warning how environmental pollution affects life?

I like the manner in which she ties in the murders, how the death penalty that was so quickly determined & often on innocent people. The death penalty was abolished in 1965 - by hanging no less - is an interesting point. Looking at prison sentencing in the UK compared to the US has fascinated me, then I realised the colossal difference in size & population.

j
judysbetz
Nov 25, 2017

The writer seems to want to make this a poetic book. Consequently, it seemed a little redundant and slow and at points, perplexing. Not as interesting or engaging as I thought it would be.

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