Sep 24, 2021 - Politics

Evan Osnos tackles Chicago's role in a divided America at city festival

A book cover of Wildland: The Making of America's Fury

Evan Osnos will discuss his new book "Wildland: The Making of America's Fury," this Saturday at Columbia College for the Chicago Humanities Festival. Book jacket: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

New Yorker writer Evan Osnos cut his journalistic teeth at the Chicago Tribune two decades ago.

  • His new book "Wildland: The Making of America's Fury," uses that knowledge to spotlight trends in Chicago (along with Greenwich, Connecticut and Clarksburg, West Virginia) that led to the divided nation we confront today.

Why it matters: Osnos will kick off the Chicago Humanities Festival tomorrow in a conversation about the city's role with former Chicago Tribune editor-in-chief Colin McMahon (who is also Monica's partner).

Why Chicago: "Frederick Jackson Turner had it right in 1901 when he described Chicago as the place where 'all the forces of the nation intersect,'" Osnos tells Axios.

  • As Osnos tells stories about how events in each place have divided us, he also shows how they converge.
  • Case in point: He explores how subprime loan architects on the East Coast affected the livelihood of families in Chicago neighborhoods like Auburn, Gresham and Parkway Gardens.

What will surprise Chicagoans: Our assumption that all our guns come from Indiana and Wisconsin is wrong.

  • A 2016 federal analysis showed that more guns come out of "West Virginia to be used in crimes than from any other state," Osnos says. "West Virginia's guns were showing up in places such as Philadelphia, Albany, and Chicago at a rate more than twice the national average."

The inevitable food question: What does he eat in Chicago?

  • "My cells are 70% water and 30% carne asada tacos from La Pasadita."

If you go: You can also check out Qian Julie Wang discussing her book "Beautiful Country" Saturday, and Chimananda Ngozi Adichie on "Notes on Grief" next Thursday.

  • The festival runs through the fall.

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Chicago.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Chicago stories


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Chicago.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more