The Devil in the White City Kindle Edition 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 For those who love mysteries and thrilling fast-paced stories - this is YOUR way to enjoy history! Learn things about America in the late 19th century you never knew . . and how so many people, places, things, ideas, all came together at the World's Fair in Chicago in 1893. Terrific "gee whiz" facts: Frank L. Baum was most likely inspired to create the Emerald City in his WIZARD OF OZ because of a trip to the "White City"; Walt Disney's dad was a carpenter who told tales of the experience, which fired the imagination of the son who would create Disneyland. Famed attorney Clarence Darrow would visit the fair - then return to Chicago a year later to craft an (unsuccessful) insanity defense for the man who killed Chicago's mayor, during the emotional heyday of the fair. (The mayor's memorial service was held on the last day of the fair.) 1893 fairgoers were introduced to new-fangled things like: the zipper, the all-electric kitchen, the telephone, moving pictures, Aunt Jemima's pancake mix, Juicy Fruit chewing gum, Cracker Jack and Shredded Wheat. And a beer that won the first prize in brewing was so proud, it added the distinction to its name - forever. The beer: Pabst Blue Ribbon. Did I mention that the tale of a horrible, heart-seizing murder spree is wound in and around the fair's glittering, gritty story? What a combination! Read this book!
My tastes when it comes to books run all over the place, but I think I get most excited when I read something featuring something nostalgic. I also love love love a good crime story. This book features both so heavily I don't know how I haven't jumped on reading this before now. Gaslight Chicago is something I know almost nothing about and the Chicago World's Fair, which has influenced us in so many ways, was also something of a mystery to me, so that was already reason enough to pick up Larson's book. But the thing that drew me like a moth to a flame was the parallel account of H.H. Holmes, renowned serial killer that used the World's Fair as a harvesting ground for potential victims. He confessed to killing at least 23 people, though there is a theory that with his "Castle of Horrors" (as depicted in newspapers of the time) that he may have more dead bodies hidden or sold to medical schools. Also, he may have done more killing prior to living in Chicago. The point is, if you're interested in both how the World's Fair was built (a story I found fascinating) and how it tangentially connected with Holmes' reign of death, then this is definitely a book to pick up and read. The prose is beautifully put together and as factual as Larson was able to get considering the lack of primary sources in this day and age. I definitely recommend this book and will probably read it again in the future.
I'm not a big fan of nonfiction, but in Erik Larson's book The Devil in the White City, he took events which happened in the 1890s and composed a stellar masterpiece. The San Francisco Chronicle says of The Devil in the White City, "As absorbing a piece of popular history as one will ever hope to find. Readers will soon forget that Larson's work is nonfiction and, instead, imagine that they are holding fictional page-turner." I agree wholeheartedly, I hated setting it down. What stood out to me most was the multiple historical figures who are mentioned among it's pages. Not only do people such as, Walt Disney's father (he worked on buildings at the Fair), Annie Oakley, Buffalo Bill, Susan B. Anthony, and Mark Twain make appearances at the Fair, there are numerous inventions revealed at the Exposition. They include, but aren't limited to the Ferris Wheel, Shredded Wheat, spray paint, and the belly dance. The way that Erik Larson weaved this book of murder, personal growth (and demise), and imagery is truly an amazing feat. Yes, I am aware that this book was released in 2003. Remember that I am not a big fan of nonfiction. If I do have the time to read, I would love to get lost in another world. Surprisingly this book did just that.
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