July 6, 1944 was a blistering hot day in Hartford, Connecticut, but that didn’t stop over 8,000 people from attending the afternoon performance of the world famous Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Transfixed by the Wallenda Family performing their death-defying high-wire act, few in the audience noticed when a fire broke out on a southwest sidewall. Although ushers hurried to extinguish the blaze, the fire spread rapidly and soon the circus band was playing their disaster march “Stars and Stripes Forever”. Panic-stricken, the audience stampeded for the exits, some jumping off the grandstands, others throwing chairs out the way, many trampling any one – including hundreds of women and children – who were in their way. Stewart O’Nan’s Circus Fire relates in horrifying detail the nightmare of the great Hartford circus fire, an event so terrible that some survivors still wake up screaming.