People Wasn't Made to Burn: A True Story of Housing, Race, and Murder in Chicago

Joe Allen


In 1947, James Hickman shot and killed the landlord he believed was responsible for a tragic fire that took the lives of four of his children on Chicago’s West Side. But a vibrant defense campaign, exposing the working poverty and racism that led to his crime, helped win Hickman’s freedom.

With a true-crime writer’s eye for suspense and a historian’s depth of knowledge, Joe Allen unearths the
compelling story of a campaign that stood up to Jim Crow well before the modern civil rights movement had even begun.

As deteriorating housing conditions and an accelerating foreclosure crisis combine to form a hauntingly similar set of circumstances to those that led to the Hickman case, Allen’s book restores to prominence a previously unknown story with profound relevance today.

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