September 14, 2003


The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson (C-SPAN, September 14, 2003, 8 & 11 pm)

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.

Erik Larson's gifts as a storyteller are magnificently displayed in this rich narrative of the master builder, the killer, and the great fair that obsessed them both.
It's a terrific book, a social history snapshot with the pace of a thriller, as Burnham tries to pull the fair together and Holmes perpetrates one evil after another. Cameos by the famous abound and all kinds of iconic products and inventions appear for the first time--not least the Ferris Wheel.

-BOOK SITE: The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson (Random House)
-AUDIO INTERVIEW: Erik Larson (Diane Rehm Show, 3/3/03)
-INTERVIEW: Erik Larson in the City of Books (Dave Weich, March 13, 2003,
-INTERVIEW: Notable Writer: Erik Larson (University of Oregon)
-INTERVIEW: erik larson (Robert Birnbaum, March 24, 2003, identity theory)
-INTERVIEW: The devil is in the details: Fortune and fate at the Chicago's World Fair (ALDEN MUDGE, BookPage)
-CHAT: Erik Larson on 100 year anniversary of the Galveston hurricane (CNN, September 8, 2000)
-REVIEW ARCHIVES: Devil in the White City (Reviews of Books)
(Janet Maslin, NY Times)
(Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post)
(H. W. Brands, Raleigh News & Observer)
-REVIEW: of Devil in the White City (Stephen Lyons , SF Chronicle)
of Devil in the White City
(Roger LaMay, Philadelphia Inquirer)
of Devil in the White City
(Bob Hoover, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
of Devil in the White City
(Robin Vidimos, The Denver Post)
of Devil in the White City
(Michael S. Gant, MetroActive)
of Devil in the White City
(MICHAEL J. BANDLER, Houston Chronicle)
-REVIEW: of Devil in the White City (John Hohman, New York)
-REVIEW: of ISAAC'S STORM: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History By Erik Larson (William L. Fox, SF Chronicle)

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 14, 2003 9:24 AM
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