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The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic,…
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The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That… (original 2003; edition 2003)

by Erik Larson

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
16,467580179 (4.01)1 / 881
Member:lex10
Title:The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America
Authors:Erik Larson
Info:Crown (2003), Edition: 1st ed, Hardcover
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:None

Work details

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson (2003)

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English (575)  Danish (2)  French (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (579)
Showing 1-5 of 575 (next | show all)
The Devil in the White City was one of the reasons I dropped some of the challenges. It has been on the pile for awhile, and I really wanted to read it after my visit to Chicago last summer.

And, I was rewarded by a great read. Erik Larson captures the grandeur of the age as America completes with Paris to create an amazing, unparalleled experience for fair attendees. The stories wind together: Ferris and his wheel, the assassination of the mayor, and, the "devil" of the title, a cruel murderer who took advantage of the fair to attract victims.

It was an against all odds kind of story: the opening of the fair coincided with the panic of 1893, which began just days after its opening. The weather itself seemed to hold a grudge against the fair, with rain and unprecedented storms wreaking havoc several times. But the fair organizers, a list that included Daniel Burnham and Frederick Law Olmstead, persevered and created a fantasy world for the public, including soaring sculptures, neo classical buildings, and an exotic village that became the first fair midway. ( )
  witchyrichy | Feb 18, 2019 |
I enjoy reading a book that teaches me about something I didn't know, and while I had heard of the World's Fair in Chicago in 1893, I didn't know the details. I found it a fascinating read, for the most part. I also had not heard of H. H. Holmes and his sordid story. I looked up pictures and additional information on the internet as I read. The only complaint I have is that during the chapters on the construction of the fair, I often got bogged down in names and what the role of the people mentioned was. It was a tad tedious reading about all the complaints and the prediction that the Fair would not be ready in time over and over again. Once the fair opened, however, these chapters became more interesting. I can't say that "enjoyed" is the right word when it came to reading about someone as sick as Holmes, but his chapters were interesting in their own way. ( )
  hobbitprincess | Feb 18, 2019 |
Reads like a novel, but based on detailed research. I read it because of a visit to Chicago. Two stories in parallel makes for a slightly jerky journey. The psychopathic murderer and the making of the Chicago World Fair don't really sit together very easily and don't really have much to do with each other, except for a coincidence of time and location. Nonetheless, the writing is so smooth and lively I got taken along and enjoyed the second half very much. The World Fair was aptly named: the launch pad for a string of decisive innovations from AC current to ferris wheels and an early marker of the US taking over leadership of the world. ( )
  vguy | Feb 14, 2019 |
This book was a bit slow and boring a points. It gets bogged down in a lot of detail sometimes. But overall it is an interesting topic and time period to learn about. Crazy serial killers are not new, they have always been a thing! ( )
  ladonna37 | Jan 5, 2019 |
Non-fiction book that tells two stories at the same time, serial killer HH Holmes and the construction and run of the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. It tells of the architects and how the fair was constructed from when the fair grounds was nothing but marshy land at the edge of Lake Michigan. Also the story of HH Holmes who buys a pharmacy from an elderly women in Chicago. Holmes goes on to build another building of his own across the street later to be known as "the Castle" for his own nefarious needs. We learn much about the architects of the fair, Burnham being the one in charge of it all. With Olmstead being in charge of the landscapes and waterways. Very very detailed and although it is non-fiction it reads very much like a work of fiction. The author notes that it is non-fiction and that the any part in quotation marks is in fact taken from new, books or personal correspondence of the time. Very well written and interesting read for anyone interested in the gilded age, the world fairs, Chicago or the serial killer Holmes. ( )
  ChrisWeir | Dec 31, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 575 (next | show all)
Mr. Larson has written a dynamic, enveloping book filled with haunting, closely annotated information. And it doesn't hurt that this truth really is stranger than fiction.
 

» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Larson, Erikprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brick, ScottNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood.
Daniel H. Burnham

Director of Works

World's Columbian Exposition, 1893
I was born with the devil in me. I could not help the fact that I was a murderer, no more than a poet can help the inspiration to sing.
Dr. H. H. Holmes

Confession

1896
Dedication
To Chris, Kristen, Lauren, and Erin,

for making it all worthwhile

—and to Molly, whose lust for socks

kept us all on our toes
First words
The date was April 14, 1912, a sinister day in maritime history, but of course the man in suite 63–65, shelter deck C, did not yet know it.
Quotations
"Suddenly New York and St. Louis wanted the fair. Washington laid claim to the honor on the grounds it was the center of government, New York because it was the center of everything. No one cared what St. Louis thought, although the city got a wink for pluck."
"Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood"
"They are blue. Great murderers, like great men in other walks of activity, have blue eyes."
"In all the workforce in the park numbered four thousand. The ranks included a carpenter and furniture-maker named Elias Disney, who in coming years would tell many stories about the construction of this magical realm beside the lake. His son Walt would take note."
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Book description
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

Ar 9.2, 23 Pts
Haiku summary
Grizzly killings in

the shadow of great World's Fair

held in Chicago.

(legallypuzzled)
A glittering fair,
Like a white gauze covering,
Horrifying scars.
(hillaryrose7)

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375725601, Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:02:04 -0400)

(see all 9 descriptions)

While Daniel H. Burnham builds the glittering 1893 Chicago World's Fair, a serial killer lures young women to a torture chamber.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 16 descriptions

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