The Devil in the White City
Books | History / United States / 19th Century
#1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER • NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST • From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Splendid and the Vile comes the true tale of the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago and the cunning serial killer who used the magic and majesty of the fair to lure his victims to their death. “As absorbing a piece of popular history as one will ever hope to find.” —San Francisco ChronicleCombining meticulous research with nail-biting storytelling, Erik Larson has crafted a narrative with all the wonder of newly discovered history and the thrills of the best fiction.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 the enchantment of the Guilded Age, 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.
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Community ReviewsSee all
"Outstanding!!! I both lived in Chicago and grew up south of it and had no idea the cultural history of the world’s fair that took place there, nor that there was a serial killer killing women at the same time while the fair was going on. I learned so much. So well written. My jaw is still on the floor. One of the houses the serial killer lived at was down the street from where I used to live! 🙀"
"Great historical perspective of the colorful characters and impressive effort required to put on Chicago World’s Fair (the White City). Oh, and there was a serial killer (the Devil) operating nearby at that time. Really just two separate stories with chapters interspersed along the timeline that also included lots of famous historical figures and events. "
"I think the hardest part of true crime is finding that fine line between the right amount of details and way too many. This book included way too much that left me skimming through pages of unimportant descriptions. This book really holds two very separate stories.. that of the background, building, life-span, and death of the White City, and a second story about Holmes. These really had no connection to one another besides timeline and proximity. I can see there being readers who have only an interest in one or the other, finding the rest of the book boring or off-putting. This wasn’t a win for me, but both stories included a lot of interesting facts, which is what held my attention, though skimming, till the end. "
"This is one of those books you start reading and have no idea what it is all about. Highly recommend this story about a murdering pharmacist in the era of Chicago preparing for its World Fair. I LOVED THIS BOOK! The story was great, but the history was something I had never been taught or read about. A def add to your “ to read list”!"
"Loved this book!"