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Books, Journals, New Media
March 26, 2003

Heat Wave

Author Affiliations

Books, Journals, New Media Section Editor: Harriet S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA; David H. Morse, MS, University of Southern California, Norris Medical Library, Journal Review Editor; adviser for new media, Robert Hogan, MD, San Diego.

JAMA. 2003;289(12):1573-1574. doi:10.1001/jama.289.12.1573

Heat waves, unlike tornadoes or earthquakes, rarely leave attention-grabbing physical devastation in their wake, yet Chicago's heat wave of July 13-20, 1995, which resulted in 521 heat-related deaths that month, provided many opportunities for sensationalized journalism. Heat Wave, sociologist Klinenberg's carefully crafted "social autopsy," questions the "naturalness" of this tragic event and examines its portrayal in the media. In his hard-hitting investigation, Klinenberg provides a riveting account of Chicago's heat wave that delves into the processes leading to social isolation, the social and built ecology of urban neighborhoods, and the failure of city, state, and federal governments to prevent or respond to a public health crisis. Klinenberg incorporates sociology, geography, and political science to explain the etiology of a disaster and persuades the reader that Chicago's epidemic of heat wave deaths was only partially due to natural causes.

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