Beyond the Book: Background information when reading The Given Day

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Given Day

A Novel

by Dennis Lehane

The Given Day by Dennis Lehane X
The Given Day by Dennis Lehane
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Sep 2008, 720 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2009, 720 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Diane La Rue

Buy This Book

About this Book

Beyond the Book

Print Review

The Great Molasses Flood
Prohibition was about to become the law of the land in 1919, and the Purity Distilling Company wanted to make a last batch before their product became illegal. They had a huge tank situated in the North End of Boston, which was densely populated with Italian immigrants.

The company poured warm molasses into the tank on top of a half full tank of cold molasses. The chemical reaction formed by this caused gaseous vapors which reacted with the weakened walls of the tank, and an explosion occurred.

Witnesses described a tidal wave of over two million gallons of molasses that cascaded into the streets of the North End at an estimated 35 mph. An elevated train bridge and a firehouse were destroyed. Twenty-one people died, over 150 people were injured.




The odor of molasses lingered in the neighborhood for years, and some people claim that on a hot day, the smell is still there. The Purity Distilling Company blamed Italian anarchists, whom they said blew up the tower.

This disaster spawned several long-reaching consequences. One is that the people in the poor immigrant neighborhood of North End sued United States Industrial Alcohol Company for negligence. The resulting class action lawsuit, one of the first in Massachusetts, lasted six years and called over 3000 witnesses. The plaintiffs won a settlement of $650,000 - the amount, considered enormous at the time, led to stricter safety regulations at a time when business had little regulation from the government. The city of Boston required architects and engineers to draft drawings and sign off on them. This regulation soon became common practice across the country.

The incident also led to Italian immigrants becoming more politically active. Up to this point, the residents of the North End were most concerned with daily survival. After this incident, they became more involved and better informed citizens.

Interesting Link
Photos at Dennis Lehane's website.

Article by Diane La Rue

This article was originally published in November 2008, and has been updated for the September 2009 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

This article is available to non-members for a limited time. You can also read these articles for free. For full access become a member today.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: Killers of the Flower Moon
    Killers of the Flower Moon
    by David Grann
    Voted 2017 Best Nonfiction by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    The long, sorrowful list of injustices done ...
  • Book Jacket: The Dry
    The Dry
    by Jane Harper
    Voted 2017 Best Debut Novel by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    After receiving a letter from his childhood...
  • Book Jacket: Little Fires Everywhere
    Little Fires Everywhere
    by Celeste Ng
    Voted 2017 Best Fiction by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    Small towns, big drama. Acclaimed author ...
  • Book Jacket: La Belle Sauvage
    La Belle Sauvage
    by Philip Pullman
    Voted 2017 Best Young Adult Novel by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    I wasn't quite sure what to expect ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund

"Electrifying . . . as beautiful and as icy as the Minnesota woods where it's set."
—NPR

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Strangers in Budapest
    by Jessica Keener

    Strong characters and a riveting plot combine in this psychological thriller set in Budapest.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Autumn

Autumn by Ali Smith

One of the New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year, and a Man Booker Prize Finalist

Enter

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay: $400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.