- The Devil in the White City
- By Erik Larson
- December 7, 2009 to January 2, 2010
It is a historical, non-fiction book about the World's Fair of Chicago in 1893.It revolves around two blue-eyed men; both geniuses associated with the fair, but neither associated with each other. The first being Daniel H. Burnham, the brilliant Chicagoian architect who was more or less the big brains behind the world's fair. The 2nd being a Dr. H.H. Holmes, a murderer who took advantage of the fair to lure in victums.
The Columbian Exposition is it's self a sort of character in the story as well and less of a setting, or so it seemed to me. People talk about important characters developing and growing, and nothing else more aptly describes the fair. When Chicago was first granted the rights to host this ever important fair, it was a huge deal. The world was still recovering from the last world's exposition fair in Paris, France, which which the Effiel Tower was unveiled and the impossible continually occured. In it's time the French Exposition shattered records, so which ever location was picked to host the new fair had some pretty big shoes to fill. When Chicago was finally settled on, it'd recently become the 2nd biggest city in America - after New York. Chicago was then a rising city, previously known only for it's meat slaughtering industry, but was competitively building it's way up the ranks in the era. Chicago was eager to prove it's self to the world.
Dabiel Burnham became the man in charge of the Exposition. He and his team found themselves overwhemled by the work and through nothing short of a series of miracles, they managed to over come the impossibly high stakes in time - or at least in time to manage to get away with them. The fair would eventually break every rule and completely over take the Paris Exposition.
H.H. Holmes, the murderer, had little real association with the fair beyond his role as an opprotunist. He would build a small empire completely from lying, cheating, and charming his way up. He was every bit like the devil in that conniving way. he was,according to this bok, free of human emoution when he wasn't trying manipulate people. Holmes ma be one of America's first known serial killers. He could charm women (and men) into very valunarible positions and into his (often fictional) confidence. He would usually end up having affairs with these women, then quickly and efficently kill them without anyone in his heavily occupied building noticing - in which nothing, not even the building it's self, was ever legitimately paid for - a thing. When private detectives hired by the families of the missing and creditors came snooping around, he always managed to ward them off with his charm a false sincerity. Until, that is, he was finally caught after having offed one if his men and 3 children.
Though it was non-fiction, it read perfectly like a novel and never got bogged down with the author's research. It was never remotely dry, though it did have a slow beginning. For instance, I thought that the building of the fair was tedious for me to read, but alot of the rest was pretty amusing or simply inlightening. For instance, Walt Disney's father was one of the thousands of men who helped to build the fair (which is famous for introducing us to the Ferris Wheel, btw), though it closed before Dinsey himself was born. He heard 2nd hand about how wonderful and magical the fair had been. this, we can assume, is where he got the inspiration to build his own fairy tale land.
Larson has written some other equakky interesting sounding books on American history, so this hopefully won't be the last.
The Devil In The White City
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