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

 
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The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America
Author(s)
Publisher
Genre(s)
Age Range
14+
Release Date
February 11, 2003
ISBN
0375725601
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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.

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Wonderfully told, Haunting
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This was a wonderful and brilliant read! It's based on a true story and told in alternating points of view. The times focusing on the building of the fair could get tedious, but it was still interesting to see how such an amazing event in our history took place.

The serial killer parts were grotesque and terrifying, but it was interesting to see into the mind of such a killer.

I would recommend this to history and thriller fans.
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A Chilling True Story
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Reader reviewed by Mairi

Daniel Burnham, the architect in charge of building the World's Columbian Exposition (the World's Fair of 1893) knows that the fair he builds will represent America, especially western America- long associated with savages. While he attempts to build the greatest fair the world has ever seen another man, the well-liked H. H. Holmes, reads newspaper articles about the likes of Jack the Ripper and has a kiln for burning his future victims' bodies installed in his basement. He keeps this well hidden from his neighbors, who see him as a charming young man.

This is the book my book club is reading, and when I started it I was working under the assumption that it would be boring- all factual, you know. It may be nonfiction- as the author says, anything between quotation marks was actually said- but it is far from boring. The fact that it is true only gives it more power.

The fact that it is true does not make it good reading for everyone- some of the chapters are more chilling than any horror story I have ever read.
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