Saturday, June 16, 2007

BOOK: The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America is really two stories in one: the mass murderer, Dr H Holmes and the World Fair of Chicago in 1893. Both happened in the same place and at the same time, so their overlap makes for a fascinating read. Larson, interestingly, mentions Capote's In Cold Blood as a book he read to see how Capote set the tone and mood of a mass murderer's story. I just read that last month.

The World Fair of 1893 changed so much in America. Larson does an amazing job of connecting many the people and events, and I felt the same way I did after reading In Cold Blood: the details! Buffalo Bill Cody, Shredded Wheat, Ferris Wheels, the Titanic, AC electricity, even Disneyland can be connected to this huge world event. At the same time, the Holmes story of a serial killer was chilling. I really enjoyed this well written nonfiction book and learned a lot. I want to go to Chicago now, and see some of the landmarks mentioned. I had to read this quickly as I needed to return it to a student, so I felt more pressure to get this done, but still enjoyed the diversion. There was mention of the McKinley assassination, which now connects all three books I've read for the Nonfiction Challenge: In Cold Blood, Assassination Vacation and The Devil in the White City.

also reviewed by Laura at reading reflections


  1. This book was a fascinating read, but I don't think I want to read about Holmes again any time soon. Truly a spooky, evil man. I liked learning how the World's Fair came to be, its construction and the opening.

  2. I LOVED this book! I just finished reading Thunderstruck (Larson's next book) for this challenge, but it wasn't as good. There just seemed to be so many amazing connections and things learned from The Devil!

  3. I may just have to read In Cold Blood now! I've put a link to your review on my post.

  4. i'm finally getting over to see your review - which i'm now linking to mine. thanks for the URL!

    i really did love the juxtaposition of the two stories in this book!


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