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 fairgroundsa 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. In this book the smoke, romance, and mystery of the Gilded Age come alive as never before.
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.
New York magazine
Vivid history of the glittering Chicago World's Fair and its dark side.
So good, you find yourself asking how you could not know this already.
New York Times
A dynamic and enveloping book filled with haunting, closely annotated information … this truth really is stranger than fiction.
A hugely engrossing chronicle of events public and private.
Library Journal - Rachel Collins
Both intimate and engrossing, Larson's (Isaac's Storm) elegant historical account unfolds with the painstaking calm of a Holmes murder. Although both subjects have been treated before, paralleling them here is unique. Highly recommended.
This book is everything popular history should be, meticulously recreating a rich, pre-automobile America on the cusp of modernity, in which the sale of articulated corpses was a semi-respectable trade and serial killers could go well-nigh unnoticed.
Gripping drama, captured with a reporter's nose for a good story and a novelist's flair for telling it....Superb.
Booklist - Kristine Huntley
Starred Review. Larson's ambitious, engrossing tale of the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 focuses primarily on two men Daniel H. Burnham, the architect who was the driving force behind the fair, and Henry H. Holmes, a sadistic serial killer working under the cover of the busy fair....A magnificent book.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Dorothy T. History as engaging as good fiction The subtitle gives an excellent summary of this book, but reading it takes you on a journey you won't soon forget. As in all good books, I learned a lot of things I didn't know before, like the invention of one of the carnival attractions we all... Read More
Rated of 5
by MD The devil is the book itself The book NEVER engaged my interest. It struck me as having been written with the coldest of scalpels in the coldest of operating rooms. If stark coldness was Larson's intent, then he was hugely successful. I found it tedious to the extreme. I never... Read More
Rated of 5
by Tay WORST BOOK EVER I had to read this book for a summer assignment and it was awful. I personally don't care to read about architecture so that turned me off immediately but later it was the writing style that really made the book hard to get through. There wasn't... Read More
Rated of 5
by Sergio Villa senior sem. I thought the book was excellently written. It was both suspenseful with the story of the serial killer, Dr. H.H. Holmes, and informative with the story behind the magnificent Chicago World's Fair. Even though I wasn't alive during that time, the... Read More
Rated of 5
by Elizabeth Historically fun to see all the names you learned in your history class The book was great historically...seeing all these names of people who invented things was great...the mystery surrounding Mr. Holmes was gruesome, but fit nicely into the story's plot. You will enjoy the book, but can skip some of the pages... Read More
Rated of 5
by Lynn Good vs. Evil Erik Larson did a great job of weaving two completely different stories together for a fascinating look at the building of the Chicago World's Fair and the first documented American serial killer in the same city at the same time. The history was... Read More
Simultaneously offering the absorbing reading experience of a cant-put-it-down thriller and the perception-altering resonance of a story whose reverberations continue even today, American Lightning is a masterpiece of narrative nonfiction.
From the award-winning author of The Mercury Visions of Louis Daguerre and The Beautiful Miscellaneous comes a sweeping historical novel set amid the skyscrapers of 1890s Chicago and the far-flung islands of the South Pacific.
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Oldest romance writer in the world dies aged 105. Books #124 and #125 to be published next year(Dec 10 2013) Ida Pollock, author of more than 120 books, and believed to be the world's oldest romantic novelist, has died at the age of 105.