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 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, 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.

Combining the stories of an architect and a killer in one book, mostly in alternating chapters, seems like an odd choice but it works. The magical appeal and horrifying dark side of 19th-century Chicago are both revealed through Larson's skillful writing. - John Moe

Title:The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9780609608449
Format Type:

    The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America Reviews

  • Madeline

    Poor Erik Larson.He wanted to write an extensive, in-depth look at the 1893 World's Fair, which was a collaboration of some of the greatest creative minds in the country (including the guy who designe...

  • Jason

    This book is two, two, two books in one!Sorry, that was annoying. But it’s almost as if Erik Larson wrote two really short books—one about the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition and another about...

  • Regan

    4.5 FASCINATING! ...

  • Miranda Reads

    CLICK HERE for a Booktube Video about:Ten Fabulous Book Reviews and One That Will Make You Go - doesn't that belong to Miranda Reads?Now that you know this one made the list check the video review t...

  • Seth T.

    Humour me and please allow the channeling an eighth grader for just a moment. OMG Squeee!!1 Teh best!! (Would an eighth grader say "teh best"?) And now we return you to our regularly scheduled review....

  • Danielle

    So, no offense to those that liked this book, but I'm throwing in the towel after 75 pages. It's just not holding my interest. Part of the reason for this is that Larson's writing style is way too spe...

  • Henry Avila

    The White City rises above the lake like a fantasy from another time that never existed but the eyes do not deceive this image is real, bright lights glow at night and millions of respectful , quiet, ...

  • Jim Fonseca

    A fascinating book and an easy read. Chapter by chapter, in simple chronological order, the author juxtaposes preparations for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair with the doings of one of the country’s...

  • David - proud Gleeman in Branwen's adventuring party

    For me, reviewing this book is similar to trying to review any Nicolas Cage movie from the past 20 years, in that if I was asked if Cage's over-the-top performance was the best thing or the worst thin...

  • Lobstergirl

    Larson could be the worst nonfiction writer working in America today. When he notes that "[Frederick Law] Olmsted was no literary stylist. Sentences wandered through the report like morning glory thro...