Devil in the White City

Cover of Devil in the White CityChicago in the 1890s was a place for dreams. Daniel Hudson Burnham was one of the architects that dreamt of bringing the world to Chicago for a World’s Fair to celebrate Columbus’s discovery of the New World. Henry H Holmes, on the other hand, dreamt of bringing death to pretty young ladies attending the fair. Both of their stories are told and intertwined by Larson with his deft storytelling and extensive research. This book bounced between these and other major players of the World’s Colombian Exposition, but I did not find that distracting. Instead, it was a very smart way to allow readers to have a rest from the trickery and death of Holmes so they are not overwhelmed by him.

My favorite bit about this book was learning a lot about the challenges and wonders of the Fair, including the creation of the original Ferris Wheel that stood 264 feet in the air and allowed for 2160 people to ride at any given time. Of course, I was also fascinated with the story of Holmes and his self-designed “castle”/hotel that had airtight rooms, a crematorium, and multiple other macabre mysteries.

I recommend this book for anyone interested in American History or just like a well told story. Holmes’s story and methods are told in a manner of fact fashion and is not gory. You can find our copy in the Large Print section of the library. It’s call number is LP 364.15 LAR.