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perrinpring

Perrin Pring

I'm a sci-fi writer and reader, although, let's be honest - I'll read just about anything that moves me, regardless of the genre.

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

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

Several years ago I tried to read this book and ended up putting it down for various reasons. I kept it though and picked it up on what turned into a nine hour flight. I finished it in one sitting (obviously, there wasn't much else to do). I greatly enjoyed it, but I really like history.

Taking place at the end of the American Glided Age, The Devil in the White City follows two men leading up to and during the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. The men are the fair's main architect, Daniel Burnham, and the serial killer, Herman Webster Mudgett, a.k.a. H. H. Holmes, who killed an unknown number of people during the fair. The book reads like fiction and captures the madness and over the top atmosphere that filled Chicago in the early 1890's.

While I do agree with some other reviewers that some of the florid prose was a bit too much, and the breadcrumbs leading up to certain events were a little dramatic, overall I felt like I learned A TON, and I love to learn. I flip flopped between whose story I liked more, Burnham's or Holmes, and loved that Larson did such a good job at developing the stories that I didn't just have a clear front runner for my favorite.

My main worry, I guess I'll say, is that the book was just too smooth. It really did read like fiction, and as a result, I wonder if it is all true. I do think a lot of it is true, but the skeptic in me just can't believe that it's all non-fiction. Still, I think Larson did a great job. I want to read more about the Glided age now that I've been exposed to some of its history. 

I recommend this book.