Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  David Cowan  

Pen Name: None


Audience: Adult;

Born: Chicago

-- David Cowan on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Born in and currently resides in Chicago.

Biographical and Professional Information

David Cowan was born in Chicago in 1963. He co-authored, with John Kuenster, the critically acclaimed book about the Our Lady of the Angels school fire, To Sleep With the Angels: The Story of a Fire (1996, Ivan R. Dee). The authors' investigative journalism for the book yielded answers to many lingering questions about the deadly elementary school tragedy and helped heal a Chicago community devastated by the loss of 92 children and three nuns.A U.S. Air Force veteran, former award-winning newspaper reporter, firefighters' union organizer, and longtime Chicago-area firefighter, Cowan holds degrees in journalism and political science from Southern Illinois University. Now an independent journalist, Mr. Cowan has written for major newspapers and maga¬zines and has appeared in numerous television documentaries about historic fires. He still resides in Chicago.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

To Sleep with the Angels: The Story of a Fire
ISBN: 156663217X

Ivan R. Dee. 1998

If burying a child has a special poignancy, the tragedy at a Catholic elementary school in Chicago almost forty years ago was an extraordinary moment of grief. One of the deadliest fires in American history, it took the lives of ninety-two children and three nuns at Our Lady of the Angels School, left many families physically and psychologically scarred for life, and destroyed a close-knit working-class neighborhood. This is the moving story of that fire and its consequences written by two journalists who have been obsessed with the events of that terrible day in December 1958. It is a story of ordinary people caught up in a disaster that shocked the nation. In gripping detail, those who were there―children, teachers, firefighters―describe the fear, desperation, and panic that prevailed in and around the stricken school building on that cold Monday afternoon. But beyond the flames, the story of the fire at Our Lady of the Angels became an enigma whose mystery has deepened with time: its cause was never officially explained despite evidence that it had been intentionally set by a troubled student at the school. The fire led to a complete overhaul of fire safety standards for American schools, but it left a community torn apart by grief and anger, and accusations that the Catholic church and city fathers had shielded the truth. Messrs. Cowan and Kuenster have recreated this tragedy in a powerful narrative with all the elements of a first-rate detective story.

Great Chicago Fires: Historic Blazes That Shaped a City (Illinois)
ISBN: 1893121070

Lake Claremont Pr. 2001

Chronicles notable Chicago fires and their causes, consequences, and historical contexts, and follows the development of the city's firefighters from nineteenth-century citizen bucket brigades to the modern day, high-tech fire department.



Speaking Engagements

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