Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Devil in the White City

library book
The Devil in the White City is a dual biography of Daniel Hudson Burnham, the architect who was the prime mover in creating the 1893 World's Fair and detailing the trials of that endeavor. It also tells the story of Dr. H.H. Holmes, (the American equivalent of Jack the Ripper) a charismatic and diabolical psychopath who operated his own house of horrors in a hotel he built not far from the fairgrounds. Their lives never came together, but they operated at the same time, and the good Dr. used the Fair to lure victims to his “hotel”.
From this book you get a sense of the harsh life in 19th Century Chicago. You learn about the development of the first skyscrapers and how they over came the mushy ground there, and you meet many colorful characters of the time such as Susan B. Anthony and Buffalo Bill. You may be surprised at the things we take for granted today that were introduced there or created for it, like Cracker Jacks and the Ferris Wheel. The author describes the Holmes murders and the lengthy, far reaching investigation that brought Holmes to justice. The narrative goes back and forth between the two story lines giving you a sense of the time line of the events.
I found this true story to be very interesting.
true crime, historical crime, World's Fair

1 comment:

alisonwonderland said...

i've got this one in my reading plan for the year. i'm looking forward to it!