The White City (as it became known) was a magical creation constructed upon Chicago's swampy Jackson Park by Daniel H. Burnham, the famed architect who coordinated the talents of Frederick Olmsted, Louis Sullivan, and others to build it. Dr. Henry H. Holmes combined the fair's appeal with his own fatal charms to lure scores of women to their deaths. Whereas the fair marked the birth of a new epoch in American history, Holmes marked the emergence of a new American archetype, the serial killer, who thrived on the very forces then transforming the country.
In deft prose, Larson conveys Burnham's herculean challenge to build the White City in less than 18 months. At the same time, he describes how, in a malign parody of the achievements of the fair's builders, Holmes built his own World's Fair Hotel - a torture palace complete with a gas chamber and crematorium. Throughout the book, tension mounts on two fronts: Will Burnham complete the White City before the millions of visitors arrive at its gates? Will anyone stop Holmes as he ensnares his victims?
© 2003 Erik Larson; (P) 2003 Books on Tape, Inc.
"A hugely engrossing chronicle of events public and private." (Chicago Tribune)
"Vivid history of the glittering Chicago World's Fair and its dark side." (New York Magazine)
"Both intimate and engrossing, Larson's elegant historical account unfolds with the painstaking calm of a Holmes murder."(Library Journal)
My Dog Suki
I have already read one book by Erik Larson and was looking forward to this book.
No I have not. This was boring because of Scott Brick.
No. I did not like Scott Brick's voice. It was monotonous.
I don't know. I couldn't listen to it. I'll have to borrow it from the library and read it.
If you're a history nut then you'll probably enjoy this novel. If you're looking for an engaging story, look elsewhere.
Husband, Dad, Principal, Adjunct prof, RC Deacon, radio co-host, story teller, NYer, walker, & occasional sipper of fine whisk(e)y,
The work is very interesting but lacked an intertwining I was expecting. The stories run side by side. It had me through out piece, but wanted more!
This book is more about the Worlds Fair than it is about HH Holmes. It would be a great book if you want details on how the Worlds Fair came to be. I wasn't interested that.
I had wanted to learn more about Holmes, though there really wasn't anything new in this book that I hadn't seen in various documentaries. I was very surprised that I enjoyed the progression and development of the fair itself so much,even though I had a hard time separating or caring to separate any of the persons involved. The story was very well researched and didn't feel at all contrived. I shall be experimenting more with this writer.
The fact that this dude was REAL is terrifying. it's like the serial killer novels you read come to life. Hearing about the fair was much more fascinating than i thought it would be.
The subject was very interesting so I recommend on that alone. The writing form is sort of half way between a novel and a non-fiction history. This makes the really interesting history more palatable for those that don't care for non-fiction but may feel like there is a lack of rigor for non-fiction folks who like their facts to line up and trace back to reliable sources. Larson is no David McCoullough. I may have enjoyed more if he has just picked Team Novel or Team NonFiction and stuck with it.
For example, I did find it a little jarring to go from a novelistic description of the thoughts and feelings of specific people at specific moments (clearly speculation) to incongruously specific statements about people arriving "at 7:30 pm at Bla Bla station at 123 Main Street". Random facty bits thrown in to lend historical credibility broke the novelistic flow of people experiencing events in their time.
Narration is fine...neither stands out nor detracts from the book.
I listened to this on the ride home from a long weekend in Chicago. I spent a lot of time on architecture tours so many of the names and places were fresh in my mind. It was an interesting book that evoked what it must have been like in the city during the period. I do wonder if the printed book had some pictures of the fair and the people that I was missing, but I googled the places and people on my phone as I listened so I had all the photos I needed.
It was a wonderful intertwining of the one of the USA's glorious bright spots, the Columbia Worlds Fair Exhibition in Chicago, contrasted against one our darkest spots, an undetected serial killer running amuck.
I learned so much about both and the author's sources were genuine.
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