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The Devil in the White City Download by Erik Larson

Click Here to Download the Book Author Erik Larson imbues the incredible events surrounding the 1893 Chicago World's Fair with such drama that readers may find themselves checking the book's categorization to be sure that 'The Devil in the White City' is not, in fact, a highly imaginative novel. Larson tells the stories of two men: Daniel H. Burnham, the architect responsible for the fair's construction, and H.H. Holmes, a serial killer masquerading as a charming doctor. Burnham's challenge was immense. In a short period of time, he was forced to overcome the death of his partner and numerous other obstacles to construct the famous "White City" around which the fair was built. His efforts to complete the project, and the fair's incredible success, are skillfully related along with entertaining appearances by such notables as Buffalo Bill Cody, Susan B. Anthony, Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison. The activities of the sinister Dr. Holmes, who is believed to be responsible for scores of murders around the time of the fair, are equally remarkable. He devised and erected the World's Fair Hotel, complete with crematorium and gas chamber, near the fairgrounds and used the event as well as his own charismatic personality to lure victims.

Reviews I loved this book! This is the story of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair as well as the story of the serial killer, Dr. H. H. Holmes, who was on a murder spree at the same time. The book is entirely factual, pieced together from various letters, pamphlets, newspapers, and other historical documents, however, the author has arranged the story as though it were a novel, making it a very enjoyable read. The author does a terrific job of keeping the reader hooked as he frequently foreshadows ominous upcoming events in the plot. His telling of the story is so gripping that reading the book feels like watching a movie. In fact, all I could think about during the first half of the book was what a great movie this book would make! Turns out, Leonardo DiCaprio has purchased the film rights to this book, so we hopefully won't be waiting too long to see it! What makes the story itself so incredible is how many major historical events and historical figures were in some way tied to this story. You get a glimpse into where Walt Disney most likely got his inspiration, the architectural minds behind many of America's great architecture (including Frank Lloyd Wright), and other fun characters like Wild Bill, Annie Oakley, etc. When reading the story, it almost seems like every famous or important person who ever lived can be traced back to this fair. Simultaneously, you get a dark glimpse into one of America's first serial killers, which is interesting when it intertwines with the modern emergence of Chicago the city, industrialism, and the dawn of the 20th century. I highly recommend this book to anyone, particularly people interested in this particular time period of American history. Such a great book!

I debated over whether to give this four or five stars. I usually give four stars to books I love but that might not be to everyone's taste, and five stars to books I think everyone would like. When I went on a (fruitless) search for this on the library's shelves, I was a little embarrassed to find myself in the True Crime section. I don't go in for the gruesome and garrulous "I know who killed me" genre; it strikes me as tasteless and sensationalist, and plus I feel that I have the right amount of wariness re: safety and I don't want to become paranoid. Although I really think this book could have been only about the Chicago world's fair (actually the World's Columbian Exhibition) and have been just as wonderful, the true crime portions of it did not detract from my enjoyment of it and *were* kind of interesting and creepy, in a lurid and voyeuristic kind of way. The writing was a little ornate in places, but the story was wonderful. Who knew that debates in the architecture world, construction delays, and landscaping would be a breathless page-turner but it totally was. I devoured this book pretty quickly; I just couldn't stop reading to find out what happened next. It is well-researched and imaginatively detailed. The author makes no bones about embellishing within the known historical context, and as long as it's acknowledged I am not concerned about it. In addition to telling the main story, Larson also did a great job of throwing in random historical tidbits that were not necessarily integral to the story but were


interesting in the larger context of history. I only wish I'd gotten this through ILL before I went to Chicago! Now I feel like I have to go back.

I read this in preparation for a trip to Chicago and am glad I did, as I definitely gained appreciation for the city. But, I mentioned things I learned from the book to people I would talk to, thinking that every Chicagoan would automatically know these things, and was surprised at their responses. It's a shame how little is remembered about the 1893 World's Fair, and it is a shame that only one of the magnificent buildings built for the exposition remains standing. However, as the book details, the impact of the fair is still felt more than a century later in many different ways. I read this in preparation for a trip to Chicago and am glad I did, as I definitely gained appreciation for the city. But, I mentioned things I learned from the book to people I would talk to, thinking that every Chicagoan would automatically know these things, and was surprised at their responses. It's a shame how little is remembered about the 1893 World's Fair, and it is a shame that only one of the magnificent buildings built for the exposition remains standing. However, as the book details, the impact of the fair is still felt more than a century later in many different ways. The story that Larson tells alongside that of the fair is what puts the book over the top for me, though. Truly stranger than fiction. The chilling tale of a local psychopath who killed unknown numbers of people during the years leading up to the fair ranks alongside the best non-fiction crime writing that I have read. Think "In Cold Blood," but less exhausting thanks to the presence of the largely optimistic companion narrative. The story that Larson tells alongside that of the fair is what puts the book over the top for me, though. Truly stranger than fiction. The chilling tale of a local psychopath who killed unknown numbers of people during the years leading up to the fair ranks alongside the best non-fiction crime writing that I have read. Think "In Cold Blood," but less exhausting thanks to the presence of the largely optimistic companion narrative.

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