The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America
The Devil in the White City Murder Magic and Madness at the Fair That Changed America Author:Erik Larson Two men, each handsome and unusually adept at his chosen work, embodied an element of the great dynamic that characterized America’s rush toward the twentieth century. The architect was Daniel Hudson Burnham, the fair’s brilliant director of works and the builder of many of the country’s most important structures, including the... more » Flatiron Building in New York and Union Station in Washington, D.C. The murderer was Henry H. Holmes, a young doctor who, in a malign parody of the White City, built his “World’s Fair Hotel” just west of the fairgrounds—a torture palace complete with dissection table, gas chamber, and 3,000-degree crematorium. Burnham overcame tremendous obstacles and tragedies as he organized the talents of Frederick Law Olmsted, Charles McKim, Louis Sullivan, and others to transform swampy Jackson Park into the White City, while Holmes used the attraction of the great fair and his own satanic charms to lure scores of young women to their deaths. What makes the story all the more chilling is that Holmes really lived, walking the grounds of that dream city by the lake.
TheDevil in the White City draws the reader into a time of magic and majesty, made all the more appealing by a supporting cast of real-life characters, including Buffalo Bill, Theodore Dreiser, Susan B. Anthony, Thomas Edison, Archduke Francis Ferdinand, and others. In this book the smoke, romance, and mystery of the Gilded Age come alive as never before.
Erik Larson’s gifts as a storyteller are magnificently displayed in this rich narrative of the master builder, the killer, and the great fair that obsessed them both.
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Jean G. (gianna) reviewed The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America on
Helpful Score: 39
I requested this book because I was intrigued by the fact that it had received 70+ essentially positive reviews! I don't think I have ever seen that before!
This was a good read. The information about the Fair was fascinating. I was glad to be spared the horrid details of the serial murders. The book was very well written, not sensationalistic and truly interesting.
I am re-listing so someone else can enoy.
Kerry reviewed The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America on
Helpful Score: 25
History with suspense of a murder mystery. Larson ties events surrounding early 1890's Chicago World's Fair in to a non-fiction page turner. The story will remain with you long after book goes to a dusty corner of your bookshelf. Highly recommended.
Erik Larson has been able to take historical events and mold a very readable non-fiction book. It looks into the events of the Chicago's World's Fair by telling the story of two masterminds. One a mastermind of architecture and the world's fair and another a mastermind of using charm and murder. Although I am usually interested in history books, I did enjoy as well as appreciate this book and in the end still can not believe the events in this book are real and factual at times and have to remind myself that this was not a novel.
I thought the book seemed interesting,from the synopsis on the best sellers list - I like a good "true story". This book mixes history, with a few madmen moving in tandem through the book. Slow to get moving, but by the middle of the book - I had to know how it all ended and stayed up way too late to finish!
A very interesting book about the Columbian Exposition which was made more interesting by the numerous connections to many people who later became noteworthy, either by themselves or their effect on others.
The author also weaves in the story of H.H. Holmes, who murdered many people, either to satisfy his own need to kill or to hide his scams. I say this, as the Wikipedia page on Holmes disagrees with much of the author's telling of his crimes. And, at the end of the book, the author seems to say the same. Apparently, the newspapers at the time---the "Yellow Press" was at its best during this period of American history---expanded on their writing about Holmes' crimes to increase circulation.
There were a couple of times in the book when I had to close it and take a pause with a sigh, as the author describes the killing of children by Holmes. While the Wikipedia page is listed under "H.H. Holmes," this was not his real name, as he used many aliases. It was interesting how he could get women to call him by another name ---supposedly to hide his financial dealings---without their suspecting something was amiss. Apparently he was a real charmer, as he even charmed the prison guards who knew of his horrific crimes. I guess he was the Ted Bundy of his time.
Parallel stories from the same moment in time. The development of the World's Fair of Chicago, and the murderer who rocked the Midwest with his murder complex are switched between every couple of chapters keeping you in the moment with the splendor of the fair, and the evil just out side of town.
Basically two non-fictional stories... the 1893 Chicago World's Fair from conception to completion and the unbelievable story of a physician mass murderer during this time period. The thread in common is Chicago. A good read - provides a lot of background of life at the end of the 19th century.
Fascinating story of how some amazing people made the 1893 Chicago World's Fair actually happen and how a truly diabolical serial killer operated in the same city at the same time. Brilliantly written, and all of it is true.
The book was very well written and is full of historical events and characters. It was interesting to see how people related to each other, good and bad, to complete an important project as the World's Fair. Horrendous behavior and it is scary to think there are people out there who actually do these things--and succeed.
Erik Larson's exhaustive research into the 1893 Chicago Columbian Exposition presents a fascinating compendium of facts and social commentary on the tenor of those times. The contrast of the âBlack Cityâ of urban Chicago and the âWhite Cityâ of the Exposition is striking to say the least. The staggering amount of âfirsts,â from the introduction of Cracker Jacks to the Ferris Wheel, is absolutely amazing. Throw in the grisly tale of America's first-known serial killer, Herman Mudgett, aka H.H. Homes, and you are reading an absorbing account of a truly historic American event.
Written the way a history book should be! I typically classic works of fiction almost exclusively, but I couldn't put this book down. I've been recommending it to history buffs and fiction fans alike. Larson's attention to detail is breathtaking, and the juxtaposition of the two primary plots is intriguing. Most impressive. A great read.