September 16, 2011

"The U.S. Review of Books," John E. Roper Review of An American Holocaust: The Story of Lataine's Ring by Kerry L. Barger,
"I remember being thrown up in the air like a toy... I keep turning and spinning. Then darkness." 

The attack on the World Trade Center in New York claimed almost 3,000 lives and changed America forever. A little-remembered explosion of a school in the 1930s resulted in just over 300 deaths, yet it, too, had a tremendous impact on society. Barger revives the story of one of the nation's most poignant tragedies in his highly-moving tale.

The school in New London was considered one of the most modern facilities in the state for the time period, and the residents of the small East Texas town were extremely proud of it. Like in many of the small towns near the oil fields, school officials had decided to tap into the natural gas lines to cut heating costs at the facility. What they never realized was just how dangerous that practice could be. On March 18, 1937, a spark in the wood shop ignited the cloud of invisible and odorless gas that had slowly permeated the school. The resulting explosion killed children and teachers alike, littering the area with body parts and completely devastating a community. The catastrophe led Texas to mandate the inclusion of an additive to natural gas that would enable people to smell it. The nation and then much of the world soon followed suit. 

Barger's book follows the lives of several families affected by the tragedy, including his own. By giving the reader glimpses into the hopes and dreams of individuals like his cousin, Lataine, he builds a literary memorial to those who lost so much to make others safe in the future. The book is not without its flaws, but it stands as a much-needed reminder of an event that should never be forgotten.

-- Kerry Barger has donated free hardback and paperback copies of An American Holocaust: The Story of Lataine's Ring to the New London Museum, where it is now available for their visitors.

The US Review of Books

"Mr. Barger's Kindle books are always free to Amazon Prime members and will be offered free of charge to everyone on Feb. 20th at . You don't need a Kindle to read Kindle e-books on your computer, iPod, or Smart Phone. Mr. Barger will be happy to send you a free download of any of his books for the asking. Simply contact him through the link provided in his Author's Website."