Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Devil in the White City-A Book Review

This is the overview from Barnes and Nobel:

 
 
 
 
 
"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 a time of magic and majesty, 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. In this book the smoke, romance, and mystery of the Gilded Age come alive as never before.


I finished the book. Finally! I haven't been reading as much recently. In fact, when I was writing down all my books for 2015 it looks as it I read much more at the beginning of the year and then started dwindling as the year went along. Not sure why that it. But it is what it is.

I enjoyed reading this book. It is a true story written by Erik Larson. This author, through his meticulous research, is able to blend the building of the Chicago World's Fair and the murderer, H.H. Holmes into a story that almost reads like a novel. I was so impressed by the historical facts of the building of a world's fair and the many products and devices that we now take for granted that came about because of that Fair. Things such as the automatic dish washer (and this was back in the 1890's), Aunt Jemima pancakes, Juicy Fruit gun, Cracker Jacks.  Not to mention the Ferris Wheel!! I am not a history buff and I didn't know the origin of many of these things. I cannot imagine how so many women could disappear, never to be heard from again, and this murderer went undetected for so long. We have come such a long, long way.

I will read more of his books. And I will happily award this book four stars. ****





16 comments:

  1. Great review. Sounds like a wonderful read. I'd be interested in reading about the origin of all those things that we've been using all these years. I love to read about the invention of things that stand the test of time. How creepy to tie all that fun World Fair stuff in with gruesome murders. Sounds like a very interesting read... Thanks for telling us about it.

    Michele at Angels Bark

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It didn't seem at all creepy while you read the book. It all tied in!

      Delete
  2. Sounds good. I will add this to my ever-growing TBR pile!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We will never run out of things to read, will we??

      Delete
  3. Hadn't heard of it, but does sound fascinating :) Like Kwiziger, I'll add this to my ever growing TBR pile too :) I find it is harder to read when it is cold outside; I like to be bundled up, my hands are always cold, and holding a book or tablet is hard to do when I just want my hands to be warm :) (Maybe I need reading gloves; maybe I should invent that, I could be rich :)

    Merry Christmas!

    betty

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Reading gloves sound like a wonderful idea. I like to be bundled too! But surprisingly my hands don't get that cold!

      Delete
  4. Glad you finished the book! You mentioned Aunt Jemima pakcakes . . . Did you know that there were black women who were paid to dress like Aunt Jemima and then travel to county fairs and grocery stores to support product sales. Inlearned that from a book by a Minnesota author, Michelle Norris, whose grandmother did that. The name of the book is The Grace of Silence. But the murders in The Devil in the White City . . . eery!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, eery were the murders. And crazy how he tied them to the book about the World's Fair! No, I did not know that about Aunt Jemima! Interesting!!

      Delete
  5. Glad you enjoyed the book. Larson has become one of my favorite authors. I would also recommend 'In the Garden of Beasts' about the US Ambassador to Germany in the 1930's and 'Dead Wake' about the sinking of the Lusitania. Both are excellent reads about history. Merry Christmas.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I will be looking into some of his other books, for sure!

      Delete
  6. I'm not much a history buff, either ... but your glowing review has piqued my interest. Being from Chicago, I suspect Tom would love this. I may download it on his e-reader when he's not looking and sit back to wait!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think that Tom will like the book if he is from Chicago! A lot of history in this one!

      Delete
  7. I'm anxious to read this now. I got 2 B&N gift cards for Christmas so I am going to order it up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh boy! I can help you spend them, if you want!!

      Delete
  8. Sounds interesting. It's funny how one thing can be so influential in the grand scheme.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a good book Liz. Lots of history!

      Delete

I love to hear what you might think. Leave me a comment. I guarantee though that I will delete your comment if you are just here to cause trouble. So tread lightly!