How does a place become a city? Whose stories will survive and whose will be lost? How do you know if you truly belong?It is 1800. On desolate, marshy ground between Lake Michigan and the Illinois River, a man builds a house and a city is born ... This masterful debut novel spans Chicago's tumultuous first century, showing how a city is made: by a succession of vivid, sometimes villainous individuals and their cumulative invention, energy, and vision. We meet the city's unacknowledged founder, a descendant of colonisers and slaves; witness the dispersal of the indigenous Native Americans; hear stories of an entrepreneur, an engineer, a courageous female reporter, and a corrupt alderman; and track the lives of immigrants from all over the world, as they struggle for acceptance in a country they have built. Chicago, its inhabitants and its history are brought to dazzling, colourful life in this epic tale that speaks of not just one city but America as a whole, and of how people come to find their place in the world.