The Devil In The White City
Bottom Line Up Front: Fascinating historical story of Chicago?s world Fair and the first socio-path serial killer who preyed on the young women who came to Chicago at that time.
I?ll be honest ? I read novels and avoid non-fiction like the plague. I like to read to go to imaginary worlds where I can loose myself in my imagination and have room to think in a free plane. But I loved this historical book because it is written like great fiction.
In ?The Devil in the White City,? Erik Larson follows the stories of two men important to American history. One man is Daniel Hudson Burnham, the famous American architect who designed Union Station in Washington D.C. and the Flatiron building of New York. Burnham undertakes the enormous project of building the site of Chicago?s World Fair. Despite limited funding, time, and cruel environmental conditions on the shores of Lake Michigan, Burnham is able to accomplish a masterful piece of architecture in building the ?White City? to hold the fair. While most of the buildings have been torn now, this was an amazing achievement of the time and the success of the Chicago World Fair of 1893 was a tremendous success that made Chicago one of the leading cities of the U.S.
The other story is of H.H. Holmes, the first known serial killer of the United States. He came to Chicago shortly before the fair. The modernization of U.S. society and World?s Fair brought in more and more young single women from all over the United States to Chicago. Holmes preyed on these young women who had few family ties on the area and little evidence of their where-beings. He had a total lack of morality, a common attribute of serial killers, and carried on his business farces, thievery and murders with the skills and charm of a great liar.
I knew nothing of the Chicago World Fair, and little of Chicago for that matter, before reading this book, and found everything in it interesting. That 1893 World Fair introduced new inventions like electricity, crackerjacks, and the Ferris wheel. Dignitaries and celebrities from all over the world gathered in Chicago that summer to see all of these amazing displays. The fair put Chicago on the map as an American powerhouse in technology, business, and art.
These two men could not have been more different and they represented what America was at the beginning of the 20th century ? on the cusp of greatness in art, architecture, invention and science, and on the brink of moral devastation, crime, and uprooted societies.
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