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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » The Devil In The White City: Murder, Magic, Madness, And The Fair That Changed America » User review

Simply Couldn't Put it Down!

  • Jan 15, 2004
  • by
Rating:
+5
One of the best documentary books I have ever read. As many people have stated, if you didn't know it you would think it was a novel because of the detail of what people were thinking at the time.

The story is about two main events heading towards collision. One is about the one man pulling out all stops to provide the best World's Fair to date, with limited time and a super long list of obstacles. The other is a serial killer who preys on young women. The killer sets himself up relatively close to the fair and looks forward to the influx of humanity that will come to the fair.

The book is lush with a lot of facts about the builders of a lot of American landmarks such as Central Park and the Brooklyn Bridge. Also, a lot of interesting historical characters are part of the book.

It is a time where people disappear all the time and the police are ill-equiped to do anything. The killer is able to set up shop, complete with a furnace for destroying "evidence." Also, the lack of cadavers for medical students' studies makes it quite easy to get rid of his victims remains with no questions asked.

Mr. Larson obviously did an incredible amount of research to put together the detail of this book and does a great job of assembling it.

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More The Devil In The White City: M... reviews
review by . September 30, 2008
Creepy-cool history of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, intertwined with the history of the serial killer H. H. Holmes who was operating at and around the Fair and may have accounted for anywhere from 9 (confirmed) to 50 (suspected) to even 200 (conjectured) murders.     Reads like an atmospheric slasher novel, except it is history, and thoroughly footnoted from contemporary accounts as well as secondary sources. The couple of scenes where Larson assumes an omniscient authorial …
review by . May 19, 2010
Murder, Mayhem, and National Pride
Erik Larson must have spent a year just doing the research for The Devil in the White City. I probably learned more about our nation's history from reading this book than I did in an entire college course. In the book, Larson combines two stories: the story of the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago and the story of H.H. Holmes, one of the U.S.'s first serial killers. This is an incredible story, and each page of the book is filled with little tidbits that make you think, "Hmm...why did …
review by . October 09, 2010
As Chicago entered the final decade of the 19th century, it was a black city with a black heart, a figurative and literal pig sty run by a civil administration rife with graft and dominated by the stink of the pig slaughtering industry that was run by the local equivalent of capitalist robber barons. In a shocking affront to New York City's insufferable sense of superiority, Chicago's city fathers somehow won the right to host the 1893 World Fair. Despite the astonishing crime rates, the …
Quick Tip by . October 09, 2010
An interesting, informative and exciting juxtaposition of two wildly different historical events that took place in Chicago - the creation of the 1893 Columbian Exposition and the terror of America's first documented serial killer, Dr H.H. Holmes.
review by . July 15, 2010
I'm not usually a fan of non-fiction but this book was amazing. I was spellbound as I read. The author did a great job of describing the time period, it made me almost sad to live now and not then. I was in awe at the descriptions of architecture and building even though I previously had no experience with either of these. That, combined with the descriptions of the "evil" guy's psychotic personality was a great combination that kept me turning the pages. I would recommend …
Quick Tip by . July 05, 2010
good stuff, learned a lot and got freaked out!
Quick Tip by . July 01, 2010
Loved this! Great look at a unique moment in history and a little known serial killer - nicely woven into one.
Quick Tip by . June 28, 2010
An excellent combining of history with imagination. Erik Larsen weaves plots together in this book with great skill!
Quick Tip by . June 24, 2010
wow!
Quick Tip by . June 23, 2010
Enjoyed the dark subject matter and historical recount of the world's fair.
About the reviewer

Ranked #9
I first got on this blog to discuss my first passion which is books. Since I have gotten on I find that books are only a piece of this blog and I can discuss just about anything that comes to mind. It … more
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Wiki

The 1893 Chicago World's Fair is the setting for this true account of two very different men: the celebrated architect Daniel H. Burnham, who designed and supervised the construction of the "White City" around which the fair was built; and H.H. Holmes (born Herman Webster Mudgett), a fiendishly clever serial killer posing as a doctor, who murdered scores of people, mostly young women, in his World's Fair Hotel, which contained a gas chamber and a handy crematorium for disposing of his victims. Telling their entwined stories in alternating points of view, Erik Larson illuminates the lives of these two men, but also provides insightful commentary on the changes that were taking place in American society that allowed both phenomena--a grandiose World's Fair and a string of unsolved murders--to take place. The book contains cameo appearances by such late-19th-century celebrities as Buffalo Bill Cody, Susan B. Anthony, and Thomas Edison.
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Tags

Books, Book, Cafe Libri, Usa, History, 19th Century, Chicago Worlds Fair

Details

ISBN-10: 0375725601
ISBN-13: 978-0375725609
Author: Erik Larson
Genre: History
Publisher: Vintage
Date Published: May 03, 2005
First to Review
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