The Devil in the White City: A Saga of Magic and Murder at the Fair that Changed America

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Feb 10, 2004 - History - 464 pages
534 Reviews
In The Devil in the White City, the smoke, romance, and mystery of the Gilded Age come alive as never before.

Two men, each handsome and unusually adept at his chosen work, embodied an element of the great dynamic that characterized America’s rush toward the twentieth century. The architect was Daniel Hudson Burnham, the fair’s brilliant director of works and the builder of many of the country’s most important structures, including the Flatiron Building in New York and Union Station in Washington, D.C. The murderer was Henry H. Holmes, a young doctor who, in a malign parody of the White City, built his “World’s Fair Hotel” just west of the fairgrounds—a torture palace complete with dissection table, gas chamber, and 3,000-degree crematorium.

Burnham overcame tremendous obstacles and tragedies as he organized the talents of Frederick Law Olmsted, Charles McKim, Louis Sullivan, and others to transform swampy Jackson Park into the White City, while Holmes used the attraction of the great fair and his own satanic charms to lure scores of young women to their deaths. What makes the story all the more chilling is that Holmes really lived, walking the grounds of that dream city by the lake.

The Devil in the White City draws the reader into a time of magic and majesty, made all the more appealing by a supporting cast of real-life characters, including Buffalo Bill, Theodore Dreiser, Susan B. Anthony, Thomas Edison, Archduke Francis Ferdinand, and others. Erik Larson’s gifts as a storyteller are magnificently displayed in this rich narrative of the master builder, the killer, and the great fair that obsessed them both.

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User Review  - justagirlwithabook -

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! Read full review

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User Review  - LibraryCin -

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 ... Read full review

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An Awful Fight 111
In the White City 233
Cruelty Revealed 337
The Last Crossing 371
Acknowledgments 431

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About the author (2004)

ERIK LARSON is the author of four national bestsellers: In the Garden of Beasts, Thunderstruck, The Devil in the White City, and Isaac's Storm, which have collectively sold more than 5.5 million copies. His magazine stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Harper's and other publications and his books have been published in fourteen countries.

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