An Accidental Anarchist

An Accidental Anarchist
An Accidental Anarchist

An Accidental Anarchist

How the Killing of a Humble Jewish Immigrant by Chicago's Chief of Police Exposed the Conflict Between Law & Order and Civil Rights in Early 20th Century America
By Walter Roth, By Joe Kraus


212 Pages, 5.5 x 8.5

Formats: Trade Paper, PDF, Mobipocket, EPUB

Trade Paper, $16.95 (US $16.95) (CA $19.95)

ISBN 9780897335027

Rights: WOR

Chicago Review Press (Aug 2005)
Academy Chicago Publishers


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It was a bitter cold morning in March, 1908. A nineteen-year-old Jewish immigrant traversed the confusing and unfamiliar streets of Chicago–a one-and-a-half-hour-long journey–from his ghetto home on Washburne Avenue to the luxurious Lincoln Place residence of Police Chief George Shippy. He arrived at 9 a.m. Within minutes after knocking on the front door, Lazarus Averbuch lay dead on the hallway floor, shot no less than six times by the chief himself. Why Averbuch went to the police chief's house or exactly what happened after that is still not known. This is the most comprehensive account ever written about this episode that stunned Chicago and won the attention of the entire country. It does not "solve" the mystery as much as it places it in the context of a nation that was unsure how to absorb all of the immigrants flowing across its borders. It attempts to reconstruct the many different perspectives and concerns that comprised the drama surrounding the investigation of Averbuch's killing.


"A sober analysis of the case. . . . The authors have skillfully removed the dust from an obscure but troubling episode." —Kirkus Reviews 

"The book raises disturbing questions concerning the role of the police, the role of the press, and the possibility of securing justice in an atmosphere poised by fear and mistrust. It is a history for our times."––Jonathan D. Sarna, Professor of American Jewish History, Brandeis University

Author Biography

Walter Roth is a senior partner in the law firm of D'Ancona & Pflaum in Chicago. He is president of the Chicago Jewish Historical Society and has written many articles for Chicago Jewish History, the Sentinel, and JUF News. Joe Kraus is Chair and Professor of English at the University of Scranton where he teaches Contemporary American literature and creative writing. His work has appeared, among other places, in The American Scholar, Callaloo, Quarterly Review of Film and Video, Riverteeth, and Moment. He is currently the president of MELUS, the Society for the Study of Multi-Ethnic Literatures of the United States.