Illinois Authors

The Illinois Center for the Book banner

Ken Zurski

Connection to Illinois: Zurski is a native of the Chicagoland area and currently resides in Morton.

Biography: Award-winning author Ken Zurski is a longtime broadcaster, author and speaker based out of Peoria, Illinois. A native of the Chicagoland area and a veteran of radio news, Ken released his first book, The Wreck of the Columbia, in 2012. Unremembered is his third book. Ken resides in Morton, Illinois with his wife, Connie, and two children, Sam and Nora.


Primary Literary Genre(s): History; Non-Fiction

Primary Audience(s): Adult readers


Selected Titles

Peoria Stories: Tales from the Illinois Heartland
ISBN: 1937484858 OCLC:

Amika Press 2021

From Ken Zurski, author of The Wreck of the Columbia, comes a collection of stories about people and events which helped shape a city and region. Included are profiles of Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, Charles Lindbergh and many other famous and not so famous figures who played a part in the rich history of Peoria and Central Illinois. Incorporating important historical milestones like the first flights, the rise of the automobile, and radio’s early days, Zurski skillfully intertwines local and national perspectives into each story for a captivating trip back to the past. Peoria Stories will both enlighten and entertain.

The Wreck of the Columbia: A Broken Boat, a Town’s Sorrow & the End of the Steamboat Era on the Illinois River
ISBN: 1937484947 OCLC:

Amika Press 2021

On the night of July 5, 1918, a steamboat named Columbia, returning from a moonlight excursion, collapsed and sank in the middle of the Illinois River. Of the nearly 500 passengers on board that night, most were from the town of Pekin. Eighty-seven people lost their lives in the disaster. The rest were left to tell their stories of fortitude and survival. The worst maritime accident in the history of the Illinois River, the wreck of the Columbia is a mostly forgotten tragedy today. Ken Zurski’s gripping account follows the compelling true story from the moment the captain sensed a problem, to the horror of the cries and screams in the night, to the courageous actions of the rescue and recovery workers, and ultimately to the pursuit by law enforcement officials to find truth and justice. One town in particular found itself reeling from a sudden and devastating loss of life, an immense communal grief, and a frustrating search for answers that never truly came.

Unremembered Book 2: Actors, Artists, Entertainers & Influencers
ISBN: 1956872531 OCLC:

Amika Press 2022

Jack Magnus, Readers’ Favorite: “Unremembered is a grand and glorious tapestry of events and personages whose impacts were definitely felt, but whose stories have for the most part been forgotten or overlooked.” At the outset of the twentieth century, aspiring painters, sculptors, and photographers converge on Paris, the center of the art world, to hone their craft, while in New York and London theater managers and popular actors of the day present the latest stage productions to enthusiastic crowds. Meanwhile, the prospects of war in Europe loom menacingly just over the horizon. Like other enterprises, the future of the entertainment industry, while thriving, braces for the impact of a conflict that will eventually affect both sides of the Atlantic. It’s against this uncertain backdrop that Ken Zurski, author of the award-winning Unremembered, provides another fascinating look at once-famous people that are now mostly forgotten by time. From influential theater-types to groundbreaking artists to far-reaching visionaries, this new collection of Unremembered tells a story of connections and consequences that once again reminds us that the people we meet and the friendships we keep not only change lives, but history as well. FEATURING Mrs. Pat Campbell Kathleen Bruce Scott Isadora Duncan Edward Steichen Loie Fuller Sada Yacco Charles Frohman George Kessler Charles Klein Maud Allan Edward M. House Pauline Chase David Belasco Maude Adams Mary Garden Ellen Terry James M. Barrie Harry Gordon Selfridge Gaby Deslys Mary Desti Rita Jolivet Felix Nadar Oscar Hammerstein I Justus Miles Forman

Unremembered: Tales of the Nearly Famous & the Not Quite Forgotten
ISBN: 1937484955 OCLC:

Amika Press 2021

Marty Wombacher, Meanwhile, Back In Peoria…: “Ken has an impressive writing style that is equal parts factual reporting and conversational story-telling. When you mix those two styles and weave them into tales with eccentric and unique people involved in unusual slices of life, it feels like someone is telling them to you around a campfire, even though you’re reading the words in a book. That’s a real gift and Ken Zurski has it.” Ken Zurski, author of The Wreck of the Columbia and Peoria Stories, provides a fascinating collection of once famous people and events that are now all but forgotten by time. Using a backdrop of schemes and discoveries, adventures and tragedies, Zurski weaves these figures and the events that shaped them into a narrative that reveals history’s many coincidences, connections, and correlations. We tumble over Niagara Falls in a barrel, soar on the first transcontinental machine-powered flight, and founder aboard a burning steamboat. From an adventurous young woman circumnavigating the globe to a self-absorbed eccentric running for President of the United States, Unremembered brings back these lost stories and souls for a new generation to discover. FEATURING John Alcock Nellie Bly Isambard K. Brunel Samuel Cunard Nathaniel Currier Annie Edson Taylor Ruth Elder William Harnden Father Louis Hennepin Dorothy Kilgallen Samuel Langley Bobby Leach John Ledyard Thomas Moran Catherine O’Leary William B. Ogden Fanny Palmer Sam Patch Rembrandt Peale Cal Rodgers Amos Root Janet Scudder George Francis Train Cornelius Vanderbilt Arthur Whitten Brown John Wise Victoria Woodhull