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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 2004)

by Erik Larson

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
16,284576176 (4.01)1 / 872
Member:katycat
Title:The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America
Authors:Erik Larson
Info:Vintage (2004), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 447 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:read 2011, subject: history, area: america, city: chicago, _inventoried, _nf

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 (569)  Danish (2)  French (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (573)
Showing 1-5 of 569 (next | show all)
I love Erik Larson — he has spun an amazing nonfiction tale of madness and murder and really shows that nonfiction can be riveting! If you’re curious about the World’s Fair, murder and mystery, and the surrounding investigations, this one is for you!
  justagirlwithabook | Oct 20, 2018 |
Excerpts from my original GR review (Aug 2009; read it in 2002):
- In the top 2 or 3 nonfiction books I've read [would still consider it a top ten]. Author so very good entwining parallel stories. Opened an entirely new page of American history to me. The drama builds to climaxes you only thought were possible in fiction. The book prompted interest in more by Mr Larson. ( )
  ThoughtPolice | Oct 12, 2018 |
This book is a mix of history and true crime. Part of the book focuses on serial killer, H. H. Holmes, who was active in Chicago at the time of the World’s Fair in 1893. Other parts of the book focus on the architecture as the city builds and prepares for the coming World’s Fair. Larson is very good at bringing the two storylines together and he makes nonfiction read like fiction. ( )
  LibraryCin | Oct 5, 2018 |
What a crazy and beautifully written book. It gave me chills. You'd think a book about a fair in the 1890s would be boring af, but it's not! Even when you take out the serial killer parts, the development of the White City is filled with drama and great descriptions. The main focus is on Burnham, the main architect to build a fair in Chicago. He has to overcome bureaucrat mess, a strict timeline, growing unions, and various obstacles. But while all this is coming together there's a sick serial killer out there that the cops have no idea about and he's taking full advantage of the extra visitors of the fair, H. H. Holmes. He poisons women and children and does some horrible things to them. His set up is a few streets away from the White City, people have no idea what kind of person he really is. Holmes comes off friendly and manipulates people to his will. He was a true psychopath. It's sad that something so tragic was going on while Chicago was enchanted by the White City. ( )
  wellreadcatlady | Oct 4, 2018 |
I read this book a few years back. It was borrowed from my ex’s bookshelf (another avid reader and retired librarian!). Such a creepy non-fiction story of HH Holmes. I still shiver when I think of this book and the countless women who died at his hands. This book is one that will not be easily forgotten! ( )
  emeraldgirl68 | Sep 30, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 569 (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.)
Disambiguation notice
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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)

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 8 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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