Friday, February 28, 2014

The Devil in the White City


The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America
By Erik Larson

I don't often read Non-fiction. I tend to gravitate towards fictional tales and fantastical worlds but this book was a good reminder of how much I like history. I find it fascinating and love learning how the world and society work in different eras of time. I often get my history fix by reading Historical Fiction but this book showed me that non-fiction books can be just as engaging.

It is clear that Erik Larson put a lot of work into the writing of this book. It is filled with vivid details that really made the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago come alive for me. For me it read almost like fiction. Some of the beginning chapters about the architects responsible for the creation of the fair did move a little slowly for me but as the Fair started to come together the story really came alive for me. I love that he was able to create a story so full of rich historic detail. I found it fascinating to see how the Fair really helped change America. It was fun to read about the little things that seem so common place today but were new and upcoming then. (Like Shredded Wheat and Aunt Jemima Pancake mix). I also enjoyed learning about the first Ferris Wheel. After reading this book I feel like I know what it must have been to live during that time.

As morbid as it seems, I think that parts I found most fascinating were the chapters about the serial killer, H.H. Holmes. It seems so strange to me that he was able to get away with so much for so long with out raising any questions. How could so many young women go missing from his hotel with out arousing suspicion? The fact that this really happen makes me sad and I would hope that it would be much harder in our day to get away with something so macabre. I'm also glad that he was eventual caught and an end was put to his horrendous crimes.

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