THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America

Editorial Review - Kirkus - Jane Doe

A vivid account of the tragedies and triumphs of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago and the concurrent depravities of America's first serial killer.In roughly alternating chapters, former Wall Street Journal reporter Larson (Isaac's Storm, 1999, etc.) tells the stories of Daniel H. Burnham, chief planner and architect of exposition, and Dr. Henry Howard Holmes, whose rambling World's ... Read full review

Review: The Devil in the White City

Editorial Review - - Joe Hartlaub

If someone had told me that I would spend an entire Sunday, from morning to night, engrossed in a history of the creation of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, I would have...well, I would have doubted it. Architecture is not exactly my thing, nor are fairs, or Chicago for that matter. Yet THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY, which concerns all of these elements and more, is so engrossing a tale that it is ... Read full review

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Larson's writing is good. The book is clearly very well researched and Larson knows his facts. BUT the book is boring! Larson's purpose was to make the book feel like a novel. It doesn't feel like that at all! Instead you're given tons of facts about the World's fair and architects. It is interesting but not exciting. The only "novel" part about the book is Holmes story which is creepy of course.
If you want to read the book buy it used or look for a cheaper alternative.

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This is an intriguing and excellent book - with murder plots brilliantly woven into a historical novel describing the Chicago World's Fair. It was recommended to me by a good friend and I have already recommended it to others - it's a MUST-read for any lover of true-crime books or lover of history. 

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Is This Another "Issac's Storm"?
Simple answer: no. Is it a good read? Yes. The problem with reading "other" books by Erik Larson is that the images from "Issac's Storm" continue to haunt your
thoughts even while reading his newer works. Kind of sad, actually, since "The Devil in ..." is a fascinating juxtaposition of two headliner stories, prescient peepholes into the new 20th century - just around the corner. The 1893 World's Fair held in Chicago received deserved kudos as the best ever, combining sophisticated architectural design with the most advanced technologies & goodies of the time & of what was yet to come. This epic story was balanced against the simultaneous actions of the first known American serial killer who used the World's Fair as bait for his victims. Larson spins a masterful tale, mesmerizing his readers throughout the book. However, as we are comparative, judgmental creatures, this exploration, fails in that way, to live up to expectations. 

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Thoroughly interesting book, based almost solely on first hand facts. Although the duel stories do a great justice to capture the essence of the day, they do not do each other justice. Overall, great book.

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This is one of the most interesting books I've read in a long time. It is both an interesting look at America during the Gilded Age, and a view into the highs and lows of man: the builder and the killer. I was amazed of the little tidbits of history I learned, and shocked at how easily a serial killer went about his task in an era when no one was suspicious of that kind of activity. 

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The Devil in the White City is a rare non-fiction book that reads like a heart-pounding thriller. The book takes place in Chicago in 1893 and tells two stories. One is the amazing story of the creation of a whole new city, the White City, to host the World’s Columbian Exposition. The other is a dark and grimy tale of a mass-murderer who used the Exposition as the perfect tool to ensnare his unsuspecting victims. 

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This book has two story lines going on at the same time. First, it tells about the planning and operation of the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. Which might not sound that interesting, but it really is! Famous people like Buffalo Bill Cody, Susan B. Anthony, Annie Oakley and Thomas Edison come in and out of the story because they all had something to do with the fair. The history is interesting and the pace moves along quickly enough to keep you intrigued. The second story line is about a serial killer named HH Holmes who was building a rooming house for young ladies who would come from the countryside to the city to work and visit the fair.
This book is all true with almost 400 footnotes to substantiate it. It’s an adult book, but one that mature teens will really enjoy.

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All reviews - 447

All reviews - 447
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