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Commonwealth Book Company, Inc. Launches Republication of Professor Emeritus’ Book

November 10, 2016

The second worst nightclub fire in U.S. history occurred in Kentucky in 1977 when the Beverly Hills Supper Club burned to the ground and killed 165 people. After participating in a state investigation of the fire, Robert G. Lawson, Professor Emeritus (2015) at the University of Kentucky College of Law, wrote a book about the tragedy entitled, “Beverly Hills, The Anatomy of a Nightclub Fire.” It was published in 1984 by the Ohio University Press. In a review that was written in 1985 and published in the Washington University Law Review, the book was described as follows:

“Dean Lawson’s book admirably fulfills the need for a dispassionate historical record. His compelling account of the Beverly Hills fire is gleaned from thousands of pages of sworn statements and testimony … and from investigative reports about the causes, origins and aftermath of the fire. He refrains from injecting his personal judgments into the narrative and leaves to the reader the tasks of weighing the evidence, ascribing responsibility, and assessing the institutional weaknesses that allowed this avoidable tragedy to occur. That he could become immersed in so much data concerning such a tragic occurrence and still present an objective and even-handed account is a remarkable achievement.”

In a concluding observation about the book, the reviewer said that “[i]t should be required reading for everyone whose professional responsibilities relate to public safety, and for those who are merely concerned about their own personal safety in places of public assembly as well.”

The original publisher ended its publication of the book several years ago, although the book continued to be offered for sale on the internet at very high prices. Because of continuing interest in the tragedy and Professor Lawson’s historical portrayal of it, Commonwealth Book Company, Inc., a publishing company in Ohio, recently republished the book and made it available for purchase. The new edition of “Beverly Hills, The Anatomy of a Nightclub Fire” is available for purchase online at Amazon. It can also be purchased from the publisher by email at

Professor Lawson was pleased to learn of some new interest in his old book. He now has the ability to refer friends and former students who are interested in the book to a site where they can obtain it for a reasonable price.