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Search tags: the-devil-in-the-white-city
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review 2018-09-02 23:05
The Devil Comes to Chicago
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America - Erik Larson

If I had to rate the Henry H. Holmes sections I would give it 5 stars, the same for the Daniel Hudson Burnham sections. Together though, this is a solid four star book. I think trying to mesh Holmes and Burnham together doesn't really work in the end. Probably because we follow Holmes after the Fair and we see what he got up to. I wish that Larson had provided more details, it seemed fairly short in the end. We just hear how Holmes was encased in cement, his grave missing. Burnham died after learning of a friend dying on the Titanic. 

 

Daniel Burnham c1890.jpeg

Daniel Hudson Burnham

 

 

Related image

 

Henry H. Holmes

 

Larson starts his tale with going into Burnham's life as he goes across the ocean and then jumps back to his beginning and how he and his former partner, John Root would  oversee design and construction of the World's Columbian Exposition otherwise known as the Chicago World's Fair in 1893. Burnham seems plagued with bad luck while the other subject of this book seems to have the devil's own luck.

 

Henry H. Holmes was a serial killer who took to Chicago quite easily. Larson traces how he came to Chicago and charmed a soon to be widow who then disappeared after their acquaintance. Holmes seemed to have an uncanny ability in attracting men and women alike. Married multiple times, he seemed to always be several steps ahead of the police, creditors, and others when they came looking for money or missing family members.

 

Larson eventually loops in the man who will bring down Holmes, Frank Geyer's sections of the book were so engrossing. This is a man who hoped to track down missing children who were last seen with Holmes, never understanding that the man had something missing in him that many others had remarked about before.

 

The writing was too clinical at times, though it's a nonfiction book, I would have liked to see more passion by the author. The flow was not great up front. I know a lot of reviewers got annoyed by the Burnham sections. They tended to get better at the halfway point once Larson included other real life people such as Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, and many others. I think if he had split this book into two it would have many people exclaiming how good it was.

 

The setting of the book is Chicago and Larson does his best to set a stage of Chicago in the late 1800s. You could practically smell the stench while reading. Larson includes fires, strikes, and many other things that occurred in Chicago at the same time as Holmes and his infamy. 


The ending needed a bit more oomph in my opinion. We hear about Holmes end, but I wanted to know more. Considered America's first serial killer, I wanted to know more about Holmes poor victims and what happened to the families after his death.

 

Burnham we find died in Germany in 1912, sixteen years after Holmes was sentenced to death. 

 

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text 2018-09-02 18:27
Reading progress update: I've read 50%.
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America - Erik Larson

Wow, so was Holmes Manson before Manson was a thing? Everyone talks about how he was able to attract women and men to him. I feel so bad for these women you are hearing about who were taking in by the guy who then murdered them, and sold their skeletons for a profit to medical schools.

 

Barnham seems to be going through some bad luck trying to get the World's Fair design going.

 

The sections on Holmes though are eye opening and still are more intriguing to me as a true crime reader. Larson makes you feel as if you are standing besides these people and have the ever elusive and inhumane Holmes peering into you.


Shudder.

 

Perfect read for Halloween Bingo though.

 

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text 2018-09-02 02:24
Reading progress update: I've read 25%.
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America - Erik Larson

Well the sections following Holmes are good. The initial sections following Burnham were good, but quickly got boring at least to me. I rather follow Holmes. The book feels a bit overstuffed at the moment. It's interesting to see what Holmes was up to in Chicago when Jack the Ripper was terrifying White Chapel at the same time.

 

“Holmes was charming and gracious, but something about him made Belknap uneasy. He could not have defined it. Indeed, for the next several decades alienists and their successors would find themselves hard-pressed to describe with any precision what it was about men like Holmes that could cause them to seem warm and ingratiating but also telegraph the vague sense that some important element of humanness was missing.” 

 

Very interesting that the first time psychopath was used was in the 1870s to describe this lack of humaness. 

 

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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 2016-04-21 17:37
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America - Tony Goldwyn,Erik Larson

I really enjoyed this narrative nonfiction tale of Chicago's World Fair... but it wasn't what I was expecting. Given the title The Devil in the White City, I thought the book would focus much more on HH Holmes and his murderous castle. While that was certainly a prominent aspect of the book, it focused much more on the political, social, and cultural climates around the Fair. 

 

A Scorsese/DiCaprio film adaptation is currently in the works, and I imagine it will play up the drama and horror of Holmes's serial killings. 

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