Sunday, September 9, 2007

The Devil in the White City

This book was simply amazing.

Erik Larson takes you on a journey of Chicago through the Gilded Age--from the inception of the idea of a World Fair through its ultimate conclusion in the 1890s. This non-fiction book reads like fiction and it is truly staggering to realize that it is all true and appropriately cited.

The book revolves mainly around Daniel Burnham, architect of the fair and H. H. Holmes, a serial killer who lived in Chicago during the same period. The chapters about Holmes were quite eerie and I didn't love reading them when Dan wasn't around. I took great comfort in the fact that this guy could not pull off today what he was able to back then. Still, the details do get grisly. The fair chapters are packed full of interesting tidbits about American life. It is truly flabbergasting to see what we have accomplished in the last 100 years and how much of it we owe to this period in American history.

A range of other fascinating figures appear in the book including many other architects, such as Frank Lloyd Wright, and landscape architects, such as Frederick Olmstead (designer of Central Park and the Biltmore gardens, just to name a couple), Susan B. Anthony, and Bill Cody. These men and women had enormous impact on the future of America, and the World Fair was the central point that brought all of these people together for one incredible event.

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