The Devil in the White City - Erik Larson

The Devil in the White City

By Erik Larson

  • Release Date: 2004-02-10
  • Genre: United States
4.5 Score: 4.5 (From 1,492 Ratings)

Description

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.

To find out more about this book, go to http://www.DevilInTheWhiteCity.com.

Reviews

  • An ok book

    2
    By Bookreader19
    I enjoyed the book, but was very disappointed with how much they talked about the fair and not enough about Holmes at all. Even the section about him wasn’t interesting at all. The history part was neat learned some new things but all in all not worth the money I would recommend borrowing it.
  • One of the best books I’ve ever read

    5
    By 5pbmqa
    I didn’t want it to end and hope it becomes a Netflix limited series.
  • Surprisingly slow and boring!

    2
    By Tashaww
    I thought it would be a murder mystery almost or at least fairly suspenseful. It is not! It’s incredibly SLOW and very boring. Unnecessarily long, he describes EVERY SINGLE DETAIL, including such stupidity of menu items! I has so many stories and other crap going on that it’s easy to loose track of what is even going on. Has barely anything to do with Holmes. It was way more about the fair. It’s ONLY redeeming factor is that it’s very well written. I’m shocked by the amount of people who “couldn’t put it down.”
  • Fave

    5
    By Lizsmc1
    Loved this book
  • Vegan Author cannot focus

    1
    By ybfree
    Allows his obvious vegan preferences to taint his story. Combine that with 5009 details about the world's Fair and what do ya got? The recycle bin. Read two chapters and deleted this forever.
  • Devil in the white city

    5
    By A Smith.
    One of my all time favorites! This book is captivating and thrilling to the end!
  • A very thorough trip through old Chicago

    4
    By Ferran275
    The writer put a large amount of work in to this book, and it really shows. Although I was hoping for more on Holmes (at least a fifty fifty split between him and the Worlds fair) I was not disappointed and learned quite a lot about the Worlds fair and the architects who made it happen. For a book about a man who we know almost nothing about, I agree with the writer's decisions when assuming what actions Holmes took in certain situations. Overall a very good read, a bit slow, but worth it.
  • Not what I expected

    3
    By World's Fair
    There is much more in the story about the World's Fair and architecture than about Holmes. Those parts dragged at times and it was hard to get through the book. Some of it was very interesting but not really my cup of tea. If you are looking for a murder mystery I would keep looking.
  • Page-turning non-fiction

    3
    By jorge_jjr
    THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY is a page-turning narrative, made all the more compelling by the fact that is a work of non-fiction. While an engrossing read, I was frequently left wanting more. The prose is very mechanical—not particularly evocative, but easy and quick to read. The book focuses a whole lot more on the marvels of the 1983 World Fair than it does on its true crime tale, which is a pity. As fascinating as Burnham's story is and as curious as it is to lean about the Fair's tremendous impact in the final decade of the 19th century, HH Holmes is by far the most interesting figure, and he often wasn't featured as largely as I hoped he would. One thing is for certain, however—this will make a terrific film, especially in the hands of Scorsese and DiCaprio.
  • Too little; too late

    3
    By Dandy reviewer
    The history of the fair was interesting--I didn't know that the Ferris wheel was developed there, but I agree w/ others that there are too many details, such as the menus of some dinners. Then, the author wraps up the Holmes saga rather hurriedly and without development. Why did the search for the children become nationwide front page news? No idea. What made the police think there was reason to search? No real discussion. Just as in Thunderstruck, the author is too busy telling two tales that have the most tenuous connection.

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