Philadelphia Fire

By John Edgar Wideman,

Book cover of Philadelphia Fire

Book description

In 1985 police bombed a West Philadelphia row house. Eleven people died and a fire started that destroyed sixty other houses. John Edgar Wideman brings these events and their repercussions to shocking life in this seminal novel.

At the heart of Philadelphia Fire is Cudjoe, a writer and exile who…

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Why read it?

1 author picked Philadelphia Fire as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

This book couldn’t be set anywhere else. In 1985, a stand-off between city authorities and members of the MOVE organization ended when a state police helicopter dropped two bombs on MOVE’s West Philadelphia headquarters. Eleven people died, including five children, and more than 60 homes were destroyed. Two residents of the house – a 13-year-old boy and an adult woman – survived the conflagration. 

MOVE members believed in racial justice, animal rights, and a back-to-nature lifestyle. The group frequently clashed with neighbors and city leaders. On the day of the bombing, police had gone to the MOVE home to evict…

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