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True Crime

The Library Book

by Susan Orlean

Quick take

A thrilling account of the mysterious 1986 fire that destroyed thousands of books in the Los Angeles Public Library.

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On the morning of April 28, 1986, a fire alarm sounded in the Los Angeles Public Library. As the moments passed, the patrons and staff who had been cleared out of the building realized this was not the usual fire alarm. As one fireman recounted, “Once that first stack got going, it was ‘Goodbye, Charlie.’” The fire was disastrous: it reached 2000 degrees and burned for more than seven hours. By th...


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