Monday, January 12, 2009

Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson

**From The Stacks Challenge**

Is there anyone else out there that has specific books that have more value to you than just the story itself? Is there a story behind the purchase of the book or the receiving of a gift? For me, there are many times that I can remember exactly where I have bought my books or who has given the books to me. Some are definitely more special than others. Some stories are better than others. However, it is these little stories that make a book worth more than just the price on the tag.

This is just one of those books! My story behind this book . . . I bought it in a bookstore on Michigan Avenue in Chicago. It was my first trip to the Windy City. I was there for a conference at work. I was absolutely amazed by the city and what a way to remember it by than a good book on the area’s history?!?!

Larson brings to life Chicago’s history in the late 1800’s by visiting the history of the legendary 1893 World’s Fair. The Fair brought so much to our country . . . hope, admiration and competition from the world, and even a serial killer. The killer used the Fair to lure victims to his heinous crimes with charm and his alluring blue eyes. This piece of history outlined by Larson is one of the most interesting pieces of non-fiction, if not THE best non-fiction that I have ever read! It reads like fiction, but the facts in and of themselves are so intriguing. I never knew that so many different pieces of our current culture were based in this place of history . . . Pabst Blue Ribbon Brew, Shredded Wheat, Walt Disney, the Ferris Wheel, and so much more.

Larson has a way with words! His story of Chicago and Holmes was one that I could not put down! I could not wait to find out more little interesting facts. I kept wondering how this evil man was going to be apprehended. As I turned the last page of the book, I found myself feeling the same sense of loss that Burnham may have felt as he saw his dream of the Fair come to end . . . okay, that may have been a bit of an overstatement . . . but I will say that I was disappointed to simply just be done with the book! I wanted it to keep going and going and going . . . I guess it will just be one that I will have to pick up again in the future and dive back into the adventures of the past!


  1. I read this book a few years ago. I agree with you about the description of the fair, that really was fascinating, but the chapters devoted to the serial killer and the description of how he tortured and killed all of those women freaked me out!

  2. Tracy . . . I have never been that interested in the architecture, but I definitely was fascinated with this book! And, it was a bit disturbing reading the other part!


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