Hamlet of Horrors

The Great Firestorm of 1894 is always a hot topic in Minnesota. Hinckley historians, as well as those who know the former logging center primarily as the home of Tobie’s, will be captivated by Daniel James Brown’s Under a Flaming Sky (Lyons Press, $22.95). The story of the crematory ï¬res that converged on the town, trapping some 2,000 people, has been told before, of course, but never so masterfully. Perhaps-familiar accounts of the 200-foot-high flames and such heroes as porter John Blair and telegraph operator Olive Brown are sparked with historical and scientific context. (Who knew forest management could be so interesting?) Brown’s great-grandfather died in the ï¬restorm; his grandfather and great-grandmother escaped on a burning train.

MORE MINNESOTA MAYHEM: Lost in the Wild: Danger and Survival in the North Woods by Cary J. Griffith (Borealis, $24.95)