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review 2018-06-30 15:34
The Devil In The White City
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America - Tony Goldwyn,Erik Larson

I'm not going to spend much time describing The Devil In The White City by Erik Larson. This book came out in 2003 and there are thousands of reviews out there about it. Generally it's an in depth look at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. This book gets into the making of the fair what happened during the fair and how the fair influenced America. It also follows a serial killer who used the fair to take advantage of victims. 

 

This is a fascinating book and it reads like two books in one. The story of the fair and the story of the serial killer are told in alternating chapters. Devil In The White City examines the mind of a notorious serial killer. What I found fascinating was how he came across as charming to so many people but behind the scenes people close to him were never seen again. He had multiple wives and took out insurance policies on people who he killed and then collected the money. It's amazing to me how someone who proves he has no soul can get so many people to trust him.

 

At first I felt that the story of the serial killer was much more interesting then the fair but as I kept reading I found the story of the fair being more interesting. The amount of effort and money that went into the fair was astronomical. More than 7 people died in the creation of the fair and the creators also had to put up with storms damaging the buildings, union workers striking and finally low attendance as the U.S. started to go through a depression as several large banks failed. 

 

Another thing I liked in this book was the descriptions of Chicago at the turn of the century. The city was growing in leaps and bounds but many people were poor and unable to support themselves. As the city's first skyscrapers were changing the city's skyline the Chicago stockyards were making the whole city smell like poop and the threat of cholera was always present. 

 

You could describe the period of Chicago's history that this book covers as The Best Of Times and The worst of Times. This is a great example of what life was like right before the turn of the century and how different life was. If you love history this book is a must read.

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review 2018-06-15 18:14
Book Review: The Devil in the White City
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America - Erik Larson

Book: The Devil in the White City

 

Author: Erik Larson

 

Genre: Non-Fiction/Historical/True Crime

 

Summary: Bringing Chicago circa 1893 to vivid life, Erik Larson's spellbinding bestseller intertwines the true tale of two men - the brilliant architect behind the legendary 1893 World's Fair, striving to secure America's place in the world; and the cunning serial killer who used the fair to lure his victims to their death. Combining meticulous research with nail-biting storytelling, Erik Larson has crafted a narrative with all the wonder of newly discovered history and the thrills of the best fiction. - Vintage Books, 2003.

 

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review 2017-03-15 00:00
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 Extremely well written and researched, unsettling, entertaining, educational and fascinating are all words that come to mind on finishing Eric Larson's book [b:The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America|21996|The Devil in the White City Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America|Erik Larson|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1312066724s/21996.jpg|3486041]

The Chicago World's Fair of 1893 was a remarkable achievement for the city of Chicago and it's architect Daniel H. Burnham and while the city was celebrating and enjoying this new wonder of the world, another man by the name of H.H. Holmes, a handsome and charming doctor was luring victims to their deaths and becoming America's first Serial Killer. This is the incredible true account of two very different men and the different paths their lives would lead them.

This is my second Book by Eric Larson having read and loved [b:Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania|22551730|Dead Wake The Last Crossing of the Lusitania|Erik Larson|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1408923747s/22551730.jpg|42009388] previously I was looking forward to another book by this author. His books are extremely well researched and very detailed and he leaves no stone unturned when telling a story.

I loved learning about the Fair and the magnificent buildings, The World's first Ferris Wheel, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, electric boats, all the different elements that went into planning and organising such an amazing event. I loved how this book crossed over with numerous other books I had read about this time, (especially the quote from the notorious Chicago May who was born in Ireland only a few miles from my home and ended up becoming one of Chicago's most notorious Crooks of that time) I enjoyed the descriptions of families travelling long distances to the fair from small farms and towns and their amazement at witnessing these spectacular attractions and miracle of electricity for the first time. Eric Larson's descriptions are vivid and captivating and you actually imagine you are there at the centre of the city's excitement. Of course then you are brought back to reality with the murder and mayhem created by H.H Holmes and wonder how a man like this could have murdered so many innocent people and nobody noticed or suspected him.

A word of warning The Devil is in the detail and Eric Larson book's are high on detail and facts which I loved but some may find a tad tedious as the story does drag slightly in places but the historical information and descriptions are excellent and I loved every minute spent with this book.
I listened to this one on audio and the narration was excellent.
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review 2017-02-10 14:33
Wherein I discuss my totally rational fears + reminisce on blog beginnings
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania - Erik Larson

Today I'm going to tell you about Deep Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania aka reason #5022 why I will never go on a cruise. I have an odd fascination with shipwrecks but also a deep, crushing fear of them. I cannot deal with images of sunken ships, statues, or really anything submerged under the water and nestled at the bottom of the ocean floor (you can also substitute ocean with sea, lake, or deep pool). Here is also where I confess that I am woefully ignorant about World War I. I always struggle to remember who was fighting in the war and what it was really about (I think this is still being puzzled over in some places). As far as the Lusitania, the only thing I knew was that it was a large passenger ship that had sunk (filling me with terror like the sinking of the Titanic and the film Poseidon with Kurt Russell). So I went into this book pretty much as a blank slate and by 30 pages in I was already spouting facts about it to my coworkers (who may never go on a cruise either). Like with all of Larson's works, he focuses on a major topic while interweaving storylines that occur parallel to the main event. For example, this book is about the Lusitania and its final voyage but in order to put that into context Larson had to discuss WWI and President Woodrow Wilson's state of mind in regards to the neutrality of the United States in that war (Wilson was one passionate dude, ya'll.). So not only did I learn about the machinations of the leading world powers of the early 20th century (Germany, Great Britain, and the U.S.A.) but I also got a glimpse into President Wilson's personal life, learned how submarines operate, and discovered that people really liked to smoke in 1915.

 

PS As mentioned in other posts, I love reading the end notes of nonfiction books because there are always fantastic little tidbits there that just didn't fit in the overall narrative of the book. Dead Wake was no exception. It led me to The Lusitania Resource which is a website dedicated to uncovering all of the facts of the sinking of the ship including primary documents, articles concerning the controversy of its significance to WWI, and much more. I highly recommend you check it out if nothing else than to whet your appetite for Larson's book. (Yes, I know that it's insane for me to be obsessed with this site after referencing my very real fears of traveling on a cruise ship but I like to have all of my facts ready for those trying to change my mind. It's perfectly normal.)

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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text 2016-12-27 17:30
Top 10 Reads of 2016
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy - Eric Metaxas
Ravenspur: Rise of the Tudors - Conn Iggulden
The Heretic - Henry Vyner-Brooks
How To Be A Tudor: A Dawn-to-Dusk Guide to Everyday Life - Ruth Goodman
The Colour of Poison: A Sebastian Foxley Medieval Mystery (Volume 1) - Toni Mount
The Imp of Eye (Renaissance Sojourner Series Book 1) - Kristin Gleeson,Moonyeen Blakey
A Rule Against Murder - Louise Penny
Scythe - Neal Shusterman
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania - Erik Larson
Salt to the Sea - Ruta Sepetys

I may have rated a few other books just as highly as these, but when I look through the 100 books that I read this year these are the ones that give me pause. Each of these books surprised me, challenged my way of thinking, uplifted me, or were extraordinarily memorable in their own way. It may seem easy to choose a top 10 for the year, but I am thankful that I've read so many fantastic books that this was a challenging task. To make it easier, I did not count re-reads (Pillars of the Earth) or books in the same series (Bloodline by Conn Iggulden).

 

I'm looking forward to another great year of reading in 2017! 

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