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The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America Trade Book Paperback – 2 Oct 2004

4.2 out of 5 stars 105 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Non Basic Stock Line; Reprint edition (2 Oct. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0896314731
  • ISBN-13: 978-0896314733
  • ASIN: 0375725601
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 2.4 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (105 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 288,056 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

" Engrossing . . . exceedingly well documented . . . utterly fascinating." -- "Chicago Tribune
"" A dynamic, enveloping book. . . . Relentlessly fuses history and entertainment to give this nonfiction book the dramtic effect of a novel. . . . It doesn't hurt that this truth is stranger than fiction." " --The New York Times
"" So good, you find yourself asking how you could not know this already." -- "Esquire
"" Another successful exploration of American history. . . . Larson skillfully balances the grisly details with the far-reaching implications of the World's Fair." -- "USA Today
"" As absorbing a piece of popular history as one will ever hope to find." -- "San Francisco Chronicle
"" Paints a dazzling picture of the Gilded Age and prefigure the American century to come." -- "Entertainment Weekly
"" A wonderfully unexpected book. . . Larson is a historian . . . with a novelist's soul." -- "Chicago Sun-Times
"

"Engrossing . . . exceedingly well documented . . . utterly fascinating." --"Chicago Tribune
""A dynamic, enveloping book. . . . Relentlessly fuses history and entertainment to give this nonfiction book the dramtic effect of a novel. . . . It doesn't hurt that this truth is stranger than fiction."" --The New York Times
""So good, you find yourself asking how you could not know this already." --"Esquire
""Another successful exploration of American history. . . . Larson skillfully balances the grisly details with the far-reaching implications of the World's Fair."--"USA Today
""As absorbing a piece of popular history as one will ever hope to find."--"San Francisco Chronicle
""Paints a dazzling picture of the Gilded Age and prefigure the American century to come."--"Entertainment Weekly
""A wonderfully unexpected book. . . Larson is a historian . . . with a novelist's soul."--"Chicago Sun-Times
"

Engrossing . . . exceedingly well documented . . . utterly fascinating. Chicago Tribune
A dynamic, enveloping book. . . . Relentlessly fuses history and entertainment to give this nonfiction book the dramatic effect of a novel. . . . It doesn t hurt that this truth is stranger than fiction. --The New York Times
"So good, you find yourself asking how you could not know this already." Esquire
Another successful exploration of American history. . . . Larson skillfully balances the grisly details with the far-reaching implications of the World s Fair. USA Today
As absorbing a piece of popular history as one will ever hope to find. San Francisco Chronicle
Paints a dazzling picture of the Gilded Age and prefigure the American century to come. Entertainment Weekly
A wonderfully unexpected book. . . Larson is a historian . . . with a novelist s soul. Chicago Sun-Times
"

Book Description

Chicago, 1893. One man built a heaven on earth. Another built hell beside it... --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The book tells the story behind the World Fair in Chicago in 1893. It alternates between two story lines: the one of the serial killer Holmes, and the one of the organizers of the fair with the architect Daniel Burnham as the protagonist. It is very well researched - see the impressive list of references at the back - which was a major attraction point for me. The author even clarifies which of the (few) elements in the story were unverifiable and thus pure fiction. Scientists will love this. The underlying research never gets in the way of the story though (hooray).

I was captivated by the look behind the scenes: how the Chicago won the organization of the fair, the subsequent delays in setting up an organizing team and the disasters during the building of the Fair's buildings and exhibitions. It shows how even those to be considered the best in their field don't realize major achievements without their deal of stress and problem solving (and being extremely pragmatic when deadlines come close). In fact, this book is a must-read for project managers and entrepreneurs alike.

As far as the killings of Dr. Holmes are concerned, a Belgian cannot help but see the striking parallels with the Dutroux case about 100 years later, such as building a house specifically designed to kill unnoticedly (remember Dutroux' cellar where he hid the little girls). Also the debate on the faulty functioning of the police force in the aftermath of the killings bears a close resemblance to the Belgian case. Some things never change.

If you're interested in Chicago, architecture and want to read an upbeat story on how sound ambition leads to landmark achievements (& how it doesn't come easy), read this book.
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By TeensReadToo TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 13 Aug. 2007
Format: Paperback
In 1893, Chicago was gearing up for its shining moment on the international stage. The city had been selected to host the World's Fair, beating out New York and a number of other American contenders. A prominent local architect, Daniel Burnham, had taken the reins to organize and construct the massive project. He assembled a dream team of architects, landscapers, engineers, and other professionals to help pull the fair together. Certainly Chicago could outdo the Paris Fair, which had been a worldwide success years earlier.

Unfortunately for Burnham and his team, everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. Due to a lack of organization and bickering among the committees responsible for the fair, construction began far later than it should have. Partially completed buildings blew over and burned down. Union workers threatened strikes. One sideshow act showed up a year early, while another (which was believed to be made up of cannibals) killed the man sent to retrieve them and never showed up at all. And there was a monster on the loose. A man who used the chaos of Chicago at this time in history to conceal the murders of dozens of people - many of them young, single women. A man who constructed a building with stolen money, then used the building as a slaughterhouse to lure, kill, and dispose of his victims.

THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY is a terrific book. It is nonfiction, but it reads like a novel. The real-life details of this story seem almost too bizarre to be true, yet this is one example of the old saying that "truth is stranger than fiction." The author, Erik Larson, even includes a lengthy section at the back where he documents his facts and explains his suppositions.
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By FictionFan TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 31 Jan. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
When Chicago won the right to hold the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893, there was much sneering from the snobbish elite of New York and elsewhere at the idea of this brash, dirty city, best known as the home of slaughterhouses and pork-packing factories, being able to put on a show that would impress the world. However, brash though Chicago may have been, it was also filled with go-getters and entrepreneurs, tough businessmen with determination, drive and, most of all, massive amounts of civic pride. This is the story of how those men turned an impossible dream into an astonishing reality - the building of the White City and the Chicago World Fair. And it's also the story of how one man took advantage of the huge numbers of people coming into Chicago because of the Fair to indulge his psychopathic tendencies - the serial killer HH Holmes.

In Larson's hands, the story of the building of the White City is fascinating. The odds against success were huge - time was running short, the weather threw everything it had at the site, frequently destroying half-built buildings, a financial crash began while the City was half-built, and unions and management were regularly at loggerheads. Although many men (and a few women) were involved in bringing the thing together, the whole effort was largely co-ordinated by one man, architect Daniel H Burnham, who as Director of Works was responsible for getting together the best architects, planners, engineers and landscapers, and inspiring them to believe in his vision of a beautiful city rising from a derelict piece of lakeside land. Larson uses all kinds of sources to bring Burnham and the other major players to life - newspaper articles, journals, official records and personal letters.
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