The Devil in the White City
Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America
“The Devil in the White City is one of the most fascinating books I've ever read. Set amidst the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, Erik Larson's historical narrative interweaves the stories of two men who would come to define it, for better and for worse. One is Daniel Burnham, chief architect of the Fair, who threw his entire being into creating a landmark event in American history. The other is Dr. H.H. Holmes, a serial killer who built a hotel that became his "Murder Castle", luring many poor souls who came to Chicago to their death and dismemberment. Though you may expect Holmes' chapters to be more entertaining, I was amazed by the story of the World's Fair and its impact on American history. The first Ferris wheel debuted as the centerpiece of the Fair, the Pledge of Allegiance was written for its opening ceremony, and its use of alternating current electricity essentially ended Edison and Tesla's current war. If these bits of trivia excite your inner history nerd, come buy the book today!”Marcus, The Book Tavern
In The Devil in the White City, the smoke, romance, and mystery of the Gilded Age come alive as never before.
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 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.
The Devil 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. 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.
To find out more about this book, go to http://www.DevilInTheWhiteCity.com.
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