Chicago is a representation of everything that makes the United States the awesome and challenging country that it is. There’s a tradition there of firsts — the skyscraper, the telegraph, the Twinkie — and a commitment to industry with railroads and shipping and meatpacking and teamsters.
There’s also a sobering history of race riots and gangsters. Daring muckrakers and corrupt politicians. Life-affirming jazz and blues musicians and baseball. Hot dogs, deep-dish pizza, and Italian beef sandwiches. And a population made up of immigrants from all over Europe that’s spawned high-spirited, tough-minded native Chicagoans.
In this episode, we talk about Chicago’s colorful history and world-class cuisine. Then we discuss six books we love that explore Chicago’s culture, food, and background of rabble-rousers and heroes — including a classic of muckraking journalism, a hardboiled detective novel, a poignant graphic novel, a family saga disguised as a whimsical sci-fi romp, Roger Ebert’s moving autobiography, and a page-turning account of the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893. (show notes / transcript)
Top image courtesy of Stephan Cassara/Unsplash.
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