The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson
Erik Larson has managed to bring to light two true stories from Chicago in the late 19th century in stunning – and terrifying - detail. The book intertwines the stories of Daniel Hudson Burnham, the architect behind the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, and Henry H. Holmes, a serial killer who used the World’s Fair to lure young women to his “hotel” near the fair grounds, many of whom never returned home to their families.
Society today owes a lot to the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 – the Ferris Wheel, the first commercial movie theater, alternating current, Shredded Wheat, Juicy Fruit gum and the Pledge of Allegiance, to name a few. The planning and erection of the White City, as the fairgrounds came to be known, involved the work of several up-and-coming architects, including Frank Lloyd Wright, and inspired L. Frank Baum’s Emerald City and Walt Disney’s theme parks.
As fascinating as the building of the Fair was, the story of Dr. H.H. Holmes was just as disturbing. Touted as America’s first serial killer, Holmes’ magnetism drew young, vulnerable women to himself and his “Murder Castle” that he ran as a hotel for the World’s Fair.
Taking a walk through history in the pages of this book made for a fast and mesmerizing read. Having lived in Chicago myself for a few years, the history behind some of the buildings still standing today was captivating. There’s nothing like bringing true history to life in such an enthralling way!
The Mom* Rating: Middle Shelf
*NOTE: This Review comes from The Mom - click through the link to see what kind of books and genres she likes to read and review. Reviews from individual contributors do not equal a thumbs up or shelf rating from The Bookworm.