Book Reviews of 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
The Devil in the White City Murder Magic and Madness at the Fair That Changed America
Author: Erik Larson
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ISBN-13: 9780609608449
ISBN-10: 0609608444
Publication Date: 2/11/2003
Pages: 464
Rating:
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 97

3.9 stars, based on 97 ratings
Publisher: Crown
Book Type: Hardcover
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

288 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America on
Helpful Score: 38
I requested this book because I was intrigued by the fact that it had received 70+ essentially positive reviews! I don't think I have ever seen that before!
This was a good read. The information about the Fair was fascinating. I was glad to be spared the horrid details of the serial murders. The book was very well written, not sensationalistic and truly interesting.
I am re-listing so someone else can enoy.
reviewed The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America on + 46 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 30
This is a great read. I had no idea the Chicago World's Fair had such a huge impact on the U.S. The crime story is amazing. Very interesting.
reviewed The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America on
Helpful Score: 24
History with suspense of a murder mystery. Larson ties events surrounding early 1890's Chicago World's Fair in to a non-fiction page turner. The story will remain with you long after book goes to a dusty corner of your bookshelf. Highly recommended.
reviewed The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America on + 43 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 18
Erik Larson has been able to take historical events and mold a very readable non-fiction book. It looks into the events of the Chicago's World's Fair by telling the story of two masterminds. One a mastermind of architecture and the world's fair and another a mastermind of using charm and murder. Although I am usually interested in history books, I did enjoy as well as appreciate this book and in the end still can not believe the events in this book are real and factual at times and have to remind myself that this was not a novel.
reviewed The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America on + 12 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 12
I thought the book seemed interesting,from the synopsis on the best sellers list - I like a good "true story". This book mixes history, with a few madmen moving in tandem through the book. Slow to get moving, but by the middle of the book - I had to know how it all ended and stayed up way too late to finish!
reviewed The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America on + 25 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 9
Fabulous combination of historical research and fiction. I didn't know much about the Chicago's World Fair going into the story, but found myself not only drawn into an engrossing story but, surprisingly, learned a lot about our country's popular history in the process.
reviewed The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America on + 84 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 9
Loved this book SO much, especially since I grew up in Chicago, where some of the places in the book took place still exist! Loved that it reads like a novel, though is a true story of how the World's Fair was put on while a mad serial killer used the fair to lure his victims.
reviewed The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America on + 31 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 8
Great book, the descriptions of the fair made it come alive in my mind, thoroughly enjoyed the story as well.
reviewed The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America on + 148 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
Ran across this by accident while visiting Chicago (The White City). Though truly historical in nature, it's a great crime thriller set during the World's Fair with a free lesson in architectural appreciation thrown in! I couldn't put it down. Made me excited to be moving to Chicago this summer to a place so rich in history.
reviewed The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America on + 64 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
Best written historical crime book EVER. Winner of the Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime book. A blend of information about the Chicago of 1890's, with the preparation for the Columbian Exposition and the changes occuring in society, it follows a select group of people as their lives unfold in parallel courses. The excellent writing allows reader to move with the story with natural drama and amazement of how life was lived at that time in a large city. Some photographs but I wished for more of them.
reviewed The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America on + 905 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
If you pick up this book be prepared to say WOW!! This is a fablous true story about the worlds fair in Chicago. Boy--the work and minds that went into this! This book will tell you how it came about, the shows they had, what worked and what didn't and even tells of Wild Bills show across the street as he wasn't invited to be a show within the walls of the fair. After i read this i looked the people who built this great entertainment up on the computer as i wanted more. A "stick your fanny to the seat" read.
reviewed The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America on + 47 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
One of the finest books I have ever read. Captivating, informative, great style .... I could go on and on....
reviewed The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America on
Helpful Score: 4
Who knew that the country's first serial murderer was at Chicago's World's Fair? Not me, and that's just one of the gazillion little facts you're gonna come away with. I was expecting a book about the world's fair overcome by a serial-killer. Not so. The author's focus is more on the journey the planners and architects undertook to make this event happen against enormous odds at the turn of the nineteenth century. The author certainly did his research on how the contracts were awarded for where the world's fair would take place, designing the fair, the months and months and years that went by from one deadline to another. You really feel like you know Chicago by the time you finish. Although the details about the serial murderer were interspersed throughout the book and you felt that drama building up as the fair was coming to life, it all seemed anticlimactic. Something about this book just didn't work for me. It gets so bogged down in all the minutia of the planners and the architects relationships that drags on for years. But if the World's Fair is your thing then this is the book for you. I can't imagine a question about the history of Chicago or the planning of the fair that's not answered. But if you want a really good book about serial killers, read The Dante Club.
reviewed The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America on + 902 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
This book was my first introduction to Erik Larson. Needless to say, I became an immediate fan.

This book follows what I have come to recognize as trademark Larson: he takes two real life (and seemingly unrelated) characters and weaves them seamlessly into the same overarching story. In this case, he combines architect Daniel H. Burnham and serial killer H. H. Holmes. Then he places them squarely into the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago.

This book was incredibly well written, thoroughly researched, and fun to read. It was equally educational, historical, and creepy. Burnham should be admired for his accomplishments. Holmes was flat out disturbing.

This book fell right into my wheelhouse: late 1800s, murder mystery, just the right amount of historical information, great character building, and solid story telling. I highly recommend it.
reviewed The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America on + 722 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
There were many fascinating bits of trivia that I enjoyed in this book (Do you know the connection between the World's Fair and the Pledge of Allegiance? How about the making of the ferris wheel?) I grew up in the Chicago suburbs and enjoyed hearing about the buildings that remain. (I don't know if I'm extra clueless or it isn't talked about much today or both, but I really didn't know the museums I've been inside of were from this fair.)

Sometimes I had to force myself to pick the book up again because the fact that the murders were true creeped me out in a way that Cornwell's or Reich's more graphic stuff never has.

The author did a good job of portraying how everyday life was for people in this time period (hot train rides, smelly cities, the new practice of women being on their own in a city). It's not fully clear in my mind why I'm not giving more than 3 stars. Maybe I like my reading to take me on a happy escape, and so much of this was disturbing (killing women and children and disposing of them in nasty ways) even when it was about the building of the glorious fair (many workers died during the construction, there was lots of anxiety about whether it would be finished on time). Still very well written, and if you are interested in architecture, landscape architecture, world's fairs, or true crime I think you'll enjoy this book very much.
reviewed The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America on + 151 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
A very interesting look at the building and execution of 1992 World's Fair in Chicago and the life of a serial killer, HH Holmes, living in Chicago who took advantage of his proximity to the fair to feed his psychopathic desires.

I enjoyed the book, but it did take me some time to get into the book. Larson spends a great deal of time developing the background of the characters in the book (the architects for the World's Fair and HH Holmes.)

He moves back and forth between the two stories. The biggest problem for me was that the moves weren't always during the same time frame, as the early story of HH Holmes started before the World's Fair was even an idea. So you will find yourself reading about things from HH Holmes life in 1885 after reading about something with the World's Fair from 1890.

The most interesting thing to me was the fact that the view of "kids these days" enabled HH Holmes to really get away with murder. (And that we still think "kids these days.")
reviewed The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America on
Helpful Score: 3
As someone from Chicago, I found this book really interesting and compelling. I often forgot it was historical, and not a work of fiction. Very easy to read, and I loved how historical figures weave in and out of the story.

I highly recommend this book for people who love history, rough and tumble old Chicago, fans of serial killer stories, and architecture buffs. Probably the only book that could reach that particular fan base!
reviewed The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America on + 119 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
I suppose I thought this was more of an investigative story of a serial killer during the time of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. While it is that it is also the story of the architect responsible for creating the Fair. In my opinion too much time is spent on the story of the architect (in minute detail) and not enough on the serial killer, considering the title of the book. It could be that there was not enough "evidence" available about the killer but, I almost had the feeling the author was, maybe not making things up, but, embellishing facts.
reviewed The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America on + 7145 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
Reviewed by K. Osborn Sullivan for TeensReadToo.com

In 1893, Chicago was gearing up for its shining moment on the international stage. The city had been selected to host the World's Fair, beating out New York and a number of other American contenders. A prominent local architect, Daniel Burnham, had taken the reins to organize and construct the massive project. He assembled a dream team of architects, landscapers, engineers, and other professionals to help pull the fair together. Certainly Chicago could outdo the Paris Fair, which had been a worldwide success years earlier.

Unfortunately for Burnham and his team, everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. Due to a lack of organization and bickering among the committees responsible for the fair, construction began far later than it should have. Partially completed buildings blew over and burned down. Union workers threatened strikes. One sideshow act showed up a year early, while another (which was believed to be made up of cannibals) killed the man sent to retrieve them and never showed up at all. And there was a monster on the loose. A man who used the chaos of Chicago at this time in history to conceal the murders of dozens of people - many of them young, single women. A man who constructed a building with stolen money, then used the building as a slaughterhouse to lure, kill, and dispose of his victims.

THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY is a terrific book. It is nonfiction, but it reads like a novel. The real-life details of this story seem almost too bizarre to be true, yet this is one example of the old saying that "truth is stranger than fiction." The author, Erik Larson, even includes a lengthy section at the back where he documents his facts and explains his suppositions.

The book's chapters alternate between the World's Fair and the exploits of serial killer, Dr. H.H. Holmes. I found myself enjoying both stories, as they ran parallel throughout the book. The Herculean task of putting together the fair in record time was fascinating, and the sociopathic actions of Dr. Holmes were chilling. It made for a brilliant contrast - just when the frustrations of the Fair seemed overwhelming, the book switched to Dr. Holmes as he lured yet another young woman into his web. And just when Dr. Holmes' evil seemed too much to bear, the chapter would end and the reader would be back at the World's Fair dealing with political back stabbing, instead of Holmes' more literal variety.

I rarely read nonfiction, but this book came highly recommended to me, so I gave it a try. I'm so glad I did, too. It offers a wonderful historical perspective on Chicago and the world near the close of the 19th century. For a Chicago-area native like me, its frequent mentions of famous local names, like Burnham and Adler and Marshall Field, that still grace street signs and the sides of buildings, were an added treat. Just a brief word of warning, though: it does contain some of the dreaded "adult themes." Some of Dr. Holmes' crimes are described - although not too graphically - and they might be upsetting for "younger or more sensitive" readers.

I strongly recommend THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY to anyone who enjoys an engrossing, well-written story, whether they normally read fiction or nonfiction. In particular, if readers have a book report in school, this book should be considered. It makes history come alive.
reviewed The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America on + 32 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
This is an excellent read and a very fascinating story. I could hardly put the book down once I got into it. I knew almost nothing about the history of the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago--what was involved in the multifaceted planning of the fair, all the various players participating in the design and construction of the complex and in the amazing construction project itself. I certainly knew nothing about the serial killer living in Chicago during the time that the World's Fair was being constructed and while the attraction was open to the public. It is simply amazing what this monstrous individual got away with for years before his reprehensible actions came to light. I like the way Larson weaves the two story lines together to create such an intriguing account of these past events.

I enjoyed Larsen's Issac's Storm very much and I have to say The Devil in the White City is even more enthralling. I think that even if you aren't a lover of history you will enjoy this book and find it quite enthralling.
reviewed The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America on + 2 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
This is a TERIFIC book! It's one of the very few that my husband & I both read and both LOVED! One of the best books that I have EVER read!!!!!!!!!
reviewed The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America on + 161 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
Very interesting -- a lot more detailed than I had thought it would be. I have a deeper appreciation and understanding of Chicago and the World Fair now.
reviewed The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America on + 45 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
I absolutely loved this book. I knew Chicago hosted the 1893 world's fair but I had no idea how much of an impact it had on the future of America good (architecture, Shredded wheat, Ferris wheels,Alternating Current electricity) and the bad(electric chairs, snake charmer song.) I am very disappointed that the Ferris Wheel was eventually destroyed for scrap.

I always like discovering little tidbits of information through reading for instance I learned that Cracker Jacks,Shredded Wheat, Juicy Fruit Gum, and the Ferris Wheel were first introduced at the Chicago's World's Fair in 1893. I also learned Chicago was not nick named the Windy City because of the wind. I love reading about Chicago history. It was and still is one of the most interesting American cities.
reviewed The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America on + 30 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
This novel parallels the stories of two men: Daniel Burnham, the architect who brought the dream of the World Fair to life in Chicago, and H.H. Holmes, the charming serial killer who uses the Fair to reel in a number of victims to rival nearly any other murderer in history. The chapters alternate so naturally between Holmes and Burnham that I never felt myself growing bored with one character and yearning to move on to the other, as often happens with a book that has multiple narrators or points of view. Burnhams passion for his buildings and his dreams of the Fair are just as gripping and fascinating as reading about Holmes desire to manipulate and dominate the people around him until he has no further need of them. The balance between the architect and the serial killer is horrifyingly perfect; the two men are matched in their passions and their drives to see their dreams accomplished.

The real talent of this book is that it keeps you enthralled even when you already know what is going to happen. It is stated at the beginning that the Chicago World's Fair pulls through in the end and Holmes is a killer who gets away with countless murders for years. Even with this knowledge known from the start, you still can't help but cringe with each new blow to the development of the Fair and wonder how they can possibly overcome this new impossible obstacle; you can't stop yourself from gasping at each new horrific act Holmes carries out on his victims and pray for someone to catch him in the act.

The detail of the writing is incredible, especially for the scenes of Holmes and his victims. When he is described in his normal charming way, it is hard to imagine that he could possibly be a serial killer. But the horrifying details Larson commits to the pages of his novel about the various victims find new ways to make the reader cringe and call Jack the Ripper tame by comparison.

A fantastic book. I can't recommend it enough!
reviewed The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America on + 587 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
This was a fascinating read! The book told the story of the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 (called the White City) and the sordid story of the serial killer who used it as an opportunity. Both stories are interesting and made this a real page-turner. The main story was about the World's Fair and its construction, setbacks, etc. So many "new" things came out of this fair including the use of alternating electric current, the Ferris Wheel (built to rival the Eiffel Tower in Paris), Cracker Jacks, Shredded Wheat, Columbus Day, etc. Walt Disney's father, Elias, helped build the White City -- Disney's Magic Kingdom may well be a descendent. The discriptions of the magnitude of the fair makes me wish I could have been there. Then there was the story of H.H. Holmes, a serial killer that used the fair to lure victims to his horrific hotel called "The Castle." Holmes may have killed as many as 200 people, mostly young unsuspecting women. What motivated Holmes is a mystery, but he is considered one of America's earliest serial killers. Holmes is mentioned in Caleb Carr's excellent novel, "The Alienist". Overall, I would highly recommend this book.
reviewed The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America on + 902 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
This book was my first introduction to Erik Larson. Needless to say, I became an immediate fan.

This book follows what I have come to recognize as trademark Larson: he takes two real life (and seemingly unrelated) characters and weaves them seamlessly into the same overarching story. In this case, he combines architect Daniel H. Burnham and serial killer H. H. Holmes. Then he places them squarely into the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago.

This book was incredibly well written, thoroughly researched, and fun to read. It was equally educational, historical, and creepy. Burnham should be admired for his accomplishments. Holmes was flat out disturbing.

This book fell right into my wheelhouse: late 1800s, murder mystery, just the right amount of historical information, great character building, and solid story telling. I highly recommend it.
reviewed The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America on + 8 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Fascinating look at the development of the Chicago World's Fair - contrasted with activities of a serial murderer.
reviewed The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America on + 2 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
I was so excited to get this book as I love history and mysteries. I thought this would be the best of 2 worlds. Not quite. The extensive history of the architects and landscapers and everyone else involved in the Chicago World's Fair was amazingly detailed and boooring. Just way too detailed oriented,and the rest seemed at best hit or miss. It wasn't nearly as interesting as I had hoped
reviewed The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America on + 897 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Devil was quite a read. Holmes was a fiend to put it mildly. He murdered men, women, and children alike in ways to entertain himself. It was gruesome. Rarely does a book affect me as this one did. Fortunately, the Chicago World's Fair story was fascinating and I learned so many wonderful little details that I did not know. I learned so many little facts - shredded wheat was developed then, a bicycle was first called a wheel, the Ferris wheel was developed by an engineer for it which I should have realized when I recalled that all the pictures of that World's Fair pictured a ferris wheel duh?!) Wow!
reviewed The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America on + 17 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
I loved this book! It takes factual history and spins it into a book you immediately jump in to. With each fact, I was wanting to check google and read more. Definitely recommend this book to any history-lover, Chicago-native (or surrounding area), or architectual-lover. I'll be checking out this author's other works.
reviewed The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America on + 54 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
EXCELLENT BOOK! Just to read the sections regarding the fair alone is worth it! Find out the original of cracker jacks, bubble gum, and more!
reviewed The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America on + 31 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
If you are looking for a book about the Chicago World's Fair serial killer, this is not it. If you are looking for a book about the Chicago World's Fair architecture and exhibits and the men who designed them, with some interesting facts thrown in for good measure, you have found your book. While there are several chapters that discuss Holmes (the serial killer) interspersed throughout the book, it is not really until the last few chapters that the author focuses on Holmes as the central character of the book. I found parts of it to be dull and it definitely put me to sleep on several occasions.
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Helpful Score: 2
We chose this for a Book Club read. While this was a good book, it didn't do well as a discussion book.

Personally, I enjoyed the historical aspect of Chicago, the labor movement, civil engineering, architecture, and landscape architecture. I also enjoyed reading about the building of the fair and the many famous people who were part of the fair as builders, participants, visitors. I also enjoyed learning more about the "Gilded Age" of the late 1800s. There was a lot of fascinating info throughout the book.

I would have appreciated more information about Serial Killer H. H. Holmes.
reviewed The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America on + 5 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
What an interesting book. Fascinating subject matter and extremely well written. I learned a lot about the time period that I didn't know. It reads almost like fiction!
reviewed The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America on + 46 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
I read this for a book club - one of the best history stories I've read in a long time. I really wish I could have seen the White City in person. And wow...some people are just too dangerous for words!
reviewed The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America on + 207 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
I loved this book. It was truly fascinating and should be required reading in all Chicago Public Schools.

It's a wonderful history of the city back in the late 1800's. There are two main themes that are woven together: one is the building of the Columbian World's Fair and the other is a psychopatic killer that became the archtype of the modern day serial killer. It showed how Chicago rose above the sewage problems, stockyard squallor and muck and grime to become a world class city in the eyes of not only the United States, but foreign countries as well. This was an exciting time when the first ferris wheel was being built, elevators were created, zippers were invented, and phones and radios were on the verge of discovery. It was also the time when a charismatic man of charm and intelligence disguised himself as a doctor and lured young women visiting the "white city" into his castle of horrors. (His building was called the "Word's Fair Hotel.")

The book is historical with pages and pages of references, quotes, facts and figures. But it's never boring. It's been said that truth is often more strange than fiction. That's certainly true of this book.

Unless you've already read it, be sure to put this one of our LIST OF BOOKS TO READ.
reviewed The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America on + 3 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Overall, a very interesting book. The story is about what it took to bring the World's Fair to fruition, as well as the activities of serial killer Henry H. Holmes. I appreciate the historical accuracy, but the story as a whole would have been more compelling if told more from the point of view of the characters with dialogue. The lack of dialogue seems to keep readers at a distance, and I did not find myself drawn into the story, despite the intriguing topics.

I would have also liked to have learned more about the attractions in the fair. Much of the book focuses on the difficulties encountered during construction, but only passing references are made to what fair contained, such as the first electrical kitchen with automatic dishwasher (In 1893!). In fact, if it wasn't for these passing references, it would almost seems that the fair consisted of little more than architecture and landscaping.

In short, the book is very successful as a historical piece, but somewhat slow paced with a large emphasis of some of the more mundane details.
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Helpful Score: 2
This is quite an interesting book from many aspects. Characters are carefully created and many are based on fact. The time setting is true and Larson gives nice details which lend the reader to the feeling of "being there". I learned much I did not know about Chicago and the Fair and the people of the time as well as the state of our country and the world. Brought together with mystery....This is a good one. :)
reviewed The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America on
Helpful Score: 2
This was the first book I rated a 10 out of 10 in my bookclub. The author weaves so much detail into this story and in such an easy to read and suspenseful way, that I couldn't believe it was non-fiction. The story of the serial killer is fascinating and reported in such detail that, again, it is hard to believe these events actually happened. Contrasting that subplot is another that describes the triumph of architecture and cultural pride that was the World's Fair in Chicago. Anyone who has an interest in architecture, Chicago, or early 20th century history will thoroughly enjoy this book. It made such an impression on me that when I traveled to Chicago for a conference a few months after I read it, I took an architectural boat tour so I could see up close the few remaining Burnham buildings and appreciate the skyline of the city described so articulately in this book.
reviewed The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America on
Helpful Score: 2
I loved this book. It's been almost two years since I finished reading it, and it's still on my mind regularly. I learned a lot of fascinating facts and was sufficiently creeped out by the "criminal mind" aspects of the book. I will admit, however, that the lengthy historical portions related to architects and engineers tended to bore me and were sometimes skipped. I still give the book 5 stars, though!
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Helpful Score: 2
I am not a history buff. I don't like history in general. I actually read very little nonfiction. This book was recommended by my brother so I felt some obligation to try reading it, but I really liked it. I learned more about Chicago, one of my fav cities, and interesting factoids from this book than any I have read like it. I was fascinated by the story of the man who was a mass murderer (the dark element)and was really hoping to read more of the dark side. Still, it was an interesting presentation of Chicago at an interesting time in history. I'm not sure the stories really deserved to be intertwined or needed to be , but I guess it served a purpose. Each story in itself was interesting enough, but I credit Larson for switching it up a bit. I visited Chi-town shortly after and the names from the story are so extremely relevant today. Good recommendation, bro!
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Helpful Score: 2
Wow, what a book! An account of the Chicago World's Fair of 1893, a nearly impossible undertaking that succeeded against improbable odds, juxtaposed with the story of serial murderer H H Holmes. Spellbinding and creepy. A must-read!
reviewed The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America on + 6 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
One of my favorite books - totally fascinating and have recommended it numerous times. Isaac's Storm by the same author is also excellent.
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Helpful Score: 2
I'm still thinking about this book a month later. I'm a history geek and a psychologist so the combination of historically fascinating facts and a psychological examination of a period of time (and a madman) combined together was riveting. I felt like I was taken back in time, could feel the scratchy natural fibers people had to wear, could smell the polluted blood-soaked air of Chicago's stockyards. The first cracker jacks? The first electric lights? so many firsts; I can't spill all the beans, but this is a must read.
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Helpful Score: 1
This was recommended to me by my book store owner. At first I almost gave up on it. Very slow at start. If you like history you'll like this. After half way through, it's a great one to stay with it till the end. Be prepared to meet lots of people in the story to with the building of the worlds fair in Chicago. Very different read!
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Helpful Score: 1
It amazed me how many "new" items/inventions were first introduced at the 1893 Chicago World Fair. Fascinating stuff! This was the best part of this novel for me. The parallel story of a serial killer was a little too graphic and I wish it had been tempered somewhat...(as much as a "serial killer" can be tempered". I consider it one of my favorites by this author.
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Helpful Score: 1
I am usually not a True crime reader but, this book got tons of great reviews and it sounded interesting so I thought I would give it a try. Wrong choice on my part. This book read like a very long book report. It did have some interesting tidbits though just not enough for a book (esp. an almost 400 page one). If you really love history you might really like it though. Apparently a lot of other people did just not me.
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Non Fiction selection for my October bookclub. I really wanted to enjoy this book but it took me so long to finish. The topic is the Chicago World Fair in 1893. It explains how the fair came about to be in Chicago and all the planning involved to get it going. At the same time there was a serial killer in Chicago and Larson created a narrative to relate to us what happened. Good stories just took too long to complete.
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Helpful Score: 1
Being that I am from Chicago, I found this book really interesting. It started out slow and I wasn't sure if I really wanted to read it at first. But, after I got into it I really liked it. I'm glad I kept reading. I would recommend it to others to read.
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This book is awesome! The other took a total Tarentino approach and managed to bring several different stories into one. I absolutely loved the way he incorporated history into the personal lives of each character. I highly recommend this book for any history buff.
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Helpful Score: 1
One of my favorite books in recent history. I love Larson's blending of story lines combined with "aha" moments revealing great inventions that were unveiled at the Chicago World's Fair. This book confirmed my bias that history is often more interesting than fiction.
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Helpful Score: 1
Erik Larson has written a very enlighting nonfiction about the first World's Fair held in the United States and the first serial killer that became known to the police. The author's story starts with the beginnings of bidding for the right to hold it in the city of Chicago to the closing day of the fair. While he does this he intertwines the thread of the first known serial killer in this country and how he feeds on the fair for his own sinister gain. This is done quite brilliantly by means of volleying the chapters. In addition, along the way, you pick up various tid bits of information about skeletons, view of doctors, sanitation and much more. Make time for this one, you will not be disappointed.
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Absolutely amazing!! How did I not know about this event or Holmes before. I cannot get enough of it. Recommend DVD MAGIC OF THE WHITE CITY after you have finished book-brings book to live.
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Helpful Score: 1
What an unusual book! Very well written historical work...held my interest all the way through!
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Helpful Score: 1
The book was very interesting, but it took me a while to get into it. The last half read much quicker. It was amazing to see how all of the real historical figures fit into the story!
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Helpful Score: 1
A dual account of the 1893 world's fair, and of H.H. Holmes mass murderer. Both of these accounts are very detailed. You could be intersted in a broad swath of topics to get something out of this book. Crime, Mystery, 1890's history, Chicago history, Architectural history, Cultural history.
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Helpful Score: 1
This is one of the most intriguing, shocking, suspenseful books I've read in a long time. Wonderfully researched and written, the author captures the era beautifully.

Even without the serial murder storyline, I thought this book was extremely interesting and informative. You really feel as though you know what it was like to not only design, build or visit the attractions at the Chicago's World Fair, but you get a good glimpse into life during that time in Chicago, and architecture enthusiasts will enjoy this glimpse into the old Chicago school of architecture. Add in the criminal aspect - one that I had never heard of before reading this book - and you've got quite a story.

The insight into the murderer and his victims is absolutely bone-chilling. I am still shocked to think that these events actually happened. Great read!!
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Helpful Score: 1
I was disappointed to be actually bored by what I thought would be an involving and interesting tale of the first person to be described as a "psychopath"--the word was invented to describe/try to explain what this guy was! But what I found my self reading was a history lesson on the Chicago Worlds' Fair given by a good upper-level schoolteacher.
Personally, I am simply not interested much in the lives, lifestyles, paperwork, health issues of a bunch of (admittedly talented) architects in 1893. The Devil himself took up less than a third of the actual book and his misdeeds evaded any sort of description till the very end (and were presented in oddly Victorian description & restraint).
Well-written for what it is and no doubt would be of interest to those who like tales of historical bureaucracy, urban squalor,and the Manly Men of the turn of the last century---not my cup of tea,however.
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Helpful Score: 1
It's interesting to compare the civic pride of Chicagoans in the 1890's as they sought to be the site of the Columbia Exposition to the grandiose hopes of the current mayor to realize the Olympics, seemingly for his own piece of posterity. Highly recommended book--wonderful historical page-turner that reads like fiction.
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Extremely interesting, true story about the making of the Chicago World Fair. The men who lived their lives to fulfil this and one man who had a very sinister agenda of his own, not related to the World's Fair except for living in the vacinity.
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Helpful Score: 1
Chicago in the late 1800's was a different world. Author Erik Larson tells the story of the fair through the story of Daniel Burnham: where the idea began, how Chicago was chosen, how the fair came together and was built so quickly. Throughout the story of the fair, he tells another story of Dr. Holmes. Holmes comes to the Chicago area and establishes a pharmacy as well as other businesses. He also builds a hotel that houses the World's fair visitors. Some of the visitors and other acquaintances disappear forever. This fascinating book was detailed and included aspects of Chicago life as well as these stories.
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Helpful Score: 1
This book is incredible! Possibly the best read I've had in a long time. The stories of the architect and the murderer are intertwined marvelously, and it's a gripping tale. There are some technical bits about architecture and such, but they're told in such a way that even the seemingly "boring" parts are really interesting. Highly recommended!
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Helpful Score: 1
Really interesting - especially if you have been - or plan to go - to Chicago. Fun to read about all the products introduced for the first time at the Fair.
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Helpful Score: 1
Drags on the first half but stick with it! Totally worth it for the ending. FANTASTIC read.
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Helpful Score: 1
This book was fascinating and scarier than you-know-where as it simultaneously tells the story of th Chicago World's Fair and the development of one of America's first known serial killers, a "doctor" who murdered one of his wives, one of his own chldren, along with many others, as well as destroying the entire family of a man who was close to him and probably knew too much to be allowed to live. The author brings to life the time in which it occurs (the late 1800's) with rich detail and description. It is one the best true crime accounts I have read and I have read many!
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Helpful Score: 1
This book was very well researched and written, it had everything you would want in a book.... murder, mystery, epic imaging , drama and plot twist.

This is one of my favorite books i have read in the last five years.

Entralling reading, a page turner you will want to put procrastinate whatever you are doing to finish this one!
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Helpful Score: 1
Great book. I loved everything from its historical point of view to the story of the emergence of America's first serial killer.
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Historical non-fiction that reads like a novel. Devil in the White City is an easy non-fiction read: hard to put down, and harder to believe the details of H.H. Holmes' crimes. Highly recommended for true crime fans willing to try something a little different.
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Helpful Score: 1
Loved, loved, loved the history portrayed in this book about the world's fair. So interesting! Wish there was more details about the serial killer. Does that me weird? Don't judge! :)
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Helpful Score: 1
This book goes back and forth between the architects that built the Worlds Fair and a man who pretended to be a doctor and hid his brutal serial killings.


I wish the architects side of the story was more interestingly written as the serial killer's had been. So unfortunately I would say that I skimmed when ever I was reading about the architects but was more interested the mind workings of the serial killer which was probably just because the architects story was more on facts and measurement and the killer mindset was more imagined.

Near the end of the book the architect side does become more interesting. We learn of the first Ferris Wheel and the fire that took it all down.


While I enjoyed reading parts of this book which why I say I liked it but I did skim a lot that I felt was boring. I did feel that some of it was a learning experience about the time and setting of the era. I dont think I would re-read but some of the book was still interesting.
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Helpful Score: 1
A page turner I couldn't put down, full of history and intrigue. It's the 1892 World's Fair in Chicago side-by-side with the story of a serial killer who took advantage of the Fair to gain his victims. The story of the Fair is primary and covers its inception through its finish. What a monumental endeavor and success! At the same time, you get a sense of the underside of Chicago as you read about Dr. H.H. Holmes and how he was able to murder young women without coming under suspicion during the time of the Fair. Amazingly well written when you consider the complexity and sensitivity of the two topics. I read this one cover to cover and fully intend to read it again sometime in the future!
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Helpful Score: 1
I'll admit that I started this book a couple of times before getting into it. That being said, I enjoyed this book. I was fascinated by the little tidbits of the World's Fair the author presented. I was also intrigued by the stories of the architect and the serial killer intertwined through Chicago.
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Helpful Score: 1
Loved the history in this book. I'm not a history buff myself however it makes you look at the city of Chicago a lot differently. It is twisted and very well written. A little slow in parts regarding the buildings, however where it's a little slow in some areas it's not stop action in others. Enjoy!!
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Helpful Score: 1
This was an interesting and well researched story about the Chicago Exposition. It was also a very uneven tale of the true story of a serial killer who also used the fair to do his "business". It actually left me asking more questions about the fair, and even more about the killer, Holmes. I spent a great deal of time looking up pictures of the buildings at the Exposition, and reading more about the exhibits. I am going to leave Mr. Holmes to his dark secrets and move on. It's definitely worth reading, but be prepared for lots of questions that are not answered here.
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Helpful Score: 1
I really enjoyed Erik Larson's writing style. He does a great job of relaying the history of the day without making it too stodgy. Thorougly descriptive non-fiction with the feel of fiction. Highly recommend.
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Helpful Score: 1
This is too SLOW for me. The story sounds like it would be great, but after 100+ pages I don't feel that I am any further than the set up and just don't want to keep reading.
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Helpful Score: 1
Not nearly as good as I had expected.

Both stories - the building of the fair, and the crimes of serial killer H.W. Mudgett - are interesting, but neither tale was fully explored in this book. Condensing the history of each of these remarkable occurrences unfortunately made each story far less compelling. These stories didn't relate as well to each other as I might have liked, and as such I was distracted by the jumping from one tale to the next.

I ended up skimming much of the book and I really didn't enjoy it. It's not the worst book in the universe but I certainly can't see how it received all the positive reviews on here.
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Helpful Score: 1
Although I didn't feel that this book was gruesomely-detailed as I had heard it would be; I still very much enjoyed this book. I felt it had great historical facts and amazing pictures from that time-frame.
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Excellent read. Great research of the history of the serial killer as well as the first World's Fair in America. This work shows us that demented, as well as great minds were as alive at the turn of the 19th centruy as they are today.
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Fantastic account of one of the key events pushing America into the 20th century. The author blends a fascinating murder mystery/serial killer into the framework of the staging of the Columbian Exposition that makes this a book impossible to put down. Personal looks into the lives and motivation of the key players of the Exposition, as well as the mad serial killer, makes for truly compelling reading. A classic.
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Helpful Score: 1
I enjoyed the part of the book about the World's Fair and all the products, etc that were introduced there that we still use today. I found the part about the murderer creepy and could have done without it.
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In our book club, half really loved the book for the content on how the World's Fair was built and all the little bits of information you learn about it. Many felt it didn't have enough information on the killer and how he worked.
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Fascinating book with a cast of amazing REAL characters. True crime mixed with a groundbreaking historical event. I especially liked the way that the author wrapped up the tale at the end, telling what happened to each of the main individuals.
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Disturbing but draws you in.
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Devil in the White City creates a fascinating picture of forgotten moments of glory and depravity in American history. Larson's poetic descriptions conjure the budding strength, ingenuity and beauty of the city of Chicago and its people and the simultaneous depths of horror that emerged in the same city, in the same culture and the ways these two extremes changed the American psyche forever.
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Helpful Score: 1
I don't read much non-fiction, but I was so glad that I decided to read this book. It opened up my eyes to a truly special time in U.S. History, the Chicago World's Fair. The author does a great job of transporting the reader back into that era so that we actually feel like we visited the fair. The author also leaves the reader with an understanding as to how the events of the fair truly ushered in the modern era.

There are two stories running through the book. The first story revolves around what it took to actually make the fair happen. The second story is a chilling account of a serial killer that preyed on many victims during this time period. Both stories are equally interesting but I was intially drawn to the latter story but ended up enthralled by the monumental task of putting on the fair.
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Helpful Score: 1
American history well told. There is not a slow or dryly told chapter. Highly recommended to all history buffs.
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Hard to put this book down. Great history lesson of the Chicago area. Plot and characters masterfully blended into two parallel stories.
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Helpful Score: 1
Very educational - and as exciting a book as you'll ever read about architecture, since the muder mysteries unravelling will keep the pages turning. I found it annoying a few times when the author was clearly taking liberties to make the story more dramatic; these stories are gripping and dramatic enough without it.
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A great historical write-up written in story form. Very interesting to know what was going on with the Fair and the killer at the same time. Great read!
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Helpful Score: 1
I found this book to be a fascinating account of the Chicago World's Fair, and I loved how the author intertwined many famous people throughout the account (Walt Disney, Archduke Ferdinand, Mark Twain, Clarence Darrow to name a few). But the "every other chapter switch" between the Fair's Creators and a serial killer didn't work for me - they seemed too separate to be told in one tale.

3 stars out of 5
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Helpful Score: 1
I have to admit that this book took me awhile to get into. But, once I did, I couldn't put it down. It was interesting to learn about Chicago in a time so alive with new inventions and exciting events. Add a little murdering on the side, and you've got a good read!
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Helpful Score: 1
This book was my first introduction to Erik Larson. Needless to say, I became an immediate fan.

This book follows what I have come to recognize as trademark Larson: he takes two real life (and seemingly unrelated) characters and weaves them seamlessly into the same overarching story. In this case, he combines architect Daniel H. Burnham and serial killer H. H. Holmes. Then he places them squarely into the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago.

This book was incredibly well written, thoroughly researched, and fun to read. It was equally educational, historical, and creepy. Burnham should be admired for his accomplishments. Holmes was flat out disturbing.

This book fell right into my wheelhouse: late 1800s, murder mystery, just the right amount of historical information, great character building, and solid story telling. I highly recommend it.
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Helpful Score: 1
This was a fascinating story, rich in history and suspense. It is a little slow in the beginning, but it picks up after the first few chapters. Since I am from Pittsburgh, it was interesting to me to learn about the origins of the ferris wheel.
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A great book! Very interesting and informative about this period of time in our country - especially in Chicago. Larson does a great job of weaving the two story lines together. An incredible amount of research had to be done on both subjects. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
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"The Devil in the White City" is the fascinating account of the dedication and machinations that resulted in the spectacular World's Fair of 1893 in Chicago. Parallel with the story of the Fair, is the terrifying tale of a serial killer plying his evil deeds at the same time that the Fair is being built and then opened to a worldwide public. It's a can't-put-down book filled with interesting real-life characters and tense timelines.
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I had heard how fantastic this book was and couldn't wait to read it. Even though it is amazing to discover the impact the Chicago's World Fair had on America and the rest of the world, it became tedious reading about the architecture and building of the fair from start to finish. The author definitely leaves nothing out when describing the development and building of the White City. For the most part the author alternated chapters between Burnham (the architect) and Holmes (the serial murderer), and I eventually found myself starting to skim the chapters on Burnham, as they were so detailed it took a long time to move from one aspect of the fair to another. I was disappointed in the lack of facts leading to the discovery and arrest of Holmes, and his eventual execution. If you would rather learn the background of the Chicago's World Fair, then this is definitely the book for you; if you prefer the true crime aspect of the book, I suggest checking somewhere else.
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Helpful Score: 1
I read this book recently and enjoyed it very much. It told me a lot about a period of history that I don't know enough about. Was especially interesting since I went to school in Chicago.
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It was very difficult for me to get into this book. I enjoy History on great events, however I just found myself bored and uninterested. I guess I had too high of hopes for the book and it just didn't hold up.
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Helpful Score: 1
This book was my first introduction to Erik Larson. Needless to say, I became an immediate fan.

This book follows what I have come to recognize as trademark Larson: he takes two real life (and seemingly unrelated) characters and weaves them seamlessly into the same overarching story. In this case, he combines architect Daniel H. Burnham and serial killer H. H. Holmes. Then he places them squarely into the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago.

This book was incredibly well written, thoroughly researched, and fun to read. It was equally educational, historical, and creepy. Burnham should be admired for his accomplishments. Holmes was flat out disturbing.

This book fell right into my wheelhouse: late 1800s, murder mystery, just the right amount of historical information, great character building, and solid story telling. I highly recommend it.
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Helpful Score: 1
An untold piece of Americana. A unique look at one of the seminole events in the forging of the American identity. The book is a true story that feels like a gripping work of fiction, Larson captures a moment in time, bringing to life a tale of one of America's great achievements, while casting light on the dark places that are usually omitted from the history books.
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I liked this one quite a bit. It's a history book written like a novel. There is plenty of suspense and it's chocked full of interesting facts about American history that I'd never heard before. This one's worth checking out, for sure.
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Like other books by Larson, this one is filled with tangents and tidbits, but here they contribute to the story rather than distracting the reader away from it. The grand scale of the Columbian Exposition touched thousands, and Larson tells the sometimes stranger than fiction stories of the architects, engineers, dreamers, and criminals who were associated with the White City. A very involving and interesting book.
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WOW...this book was so interesting and seemed like more fiction than fact. The descriptions and storytelling made it hard to put this book down.
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Well written but geared towards a crowd drawn to architecture. Was a little slow at times.
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A facinating tale -- two parallel stories, really. One, the story of the architects of the Columbian Exposition, Chicago's World's Fair - how it got built, its struggle to make money in the worstening economy of the early days of the Great Depression. The other story, a madman living nearby who used the Exposition as bait, gathering in young women and seducing them to their death.

Both stories, facinating and well-told.
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I had no idea there was a serial killer in Chicago during the World's Fair in 1893. They weren't called serial killers then, but that's exactly what "Dr. H.H. Holmes" was. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson was very interesting in that the author alternated his chapters between a good man (architect Daniel Burnham) and a bad one (Holmes). I have to admit, though, that if it wasn't for the lure of the serial killer's story, I probably would have passed the book over. I wonder if that's why Larson twined the two men's stories together? I picked up some interesting trivia about the fair that I either forgot or never knew. Among them: the ferris wheel (a gigantic version!) was introduced at the fair. It was called "The White City" because all the buildings were painted white--and what an effect the sun had on them! Cracker Jack and shredded wheat and Juicy Fruit gum made their debut at the fair! But the book wasn't about trivia. It was about the dream and determination of a man (Burnham) to build the greatest world's fair ever and to "out Eiffel" the Eiffel Tower. It was about the frustrations and set backs and tragedies he endured along the way. Every other chapter (almost) was devoted to the outwardly charming but inwardly soul-dead man impersonating a doctor/pharmacist. He was an architect of sorts too--a castle chamber of horrors he built and to which he lured, tortured and killed at least 9 people. Some say he may have killed up to 200!
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Helpful Score: 1
I couldn't put this book dpwn. What I thought would be a dull accounting of the building of the Chicasgo World Fair turned out to bea fascinating tale of passion and dreams. There are so many interesting tidbits of fact. The alternate side of the book, the story of H. H. Holmes, murderer and psychopath, is fascinating in that the reader can almost get into his moind. What he got away with and for so long is amazing. I recommend this book to readers of history and true crime. Actually, I can recommend it to anyone who enjoys a very well written story with aspects you won't easily forget.
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The true tale of two men--the brilliant architect behind the legendary 1893 World's Fair, and the cunning serial killer who used the fair to lure his victims to their death. Lot's of history including the creation of the first Ferris wheel, and a number of unique constructions methods necessary to meet the time constraints of the opening of the Fair.
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This is one of my favorite books of all time. It is a true story, but reads like a novel.

The happier part of the story is about the Chicago World's Fair in the 1890s, a fascinating extravaganza to show the world that Chicago was as sophisticated as New York or Paris. The White City was a cutting-edge product of the best then available in electric lighting, landscaping and design. It also featured the first Ferris Wheel, something more akin to the London Eye than to your average amusement park Ferris Wheel.

(My grandfather attended this fair and told me about it when I was about 13 years old and he was at least 90, so I had a huge curiosity about it. )

The sinister side of this story is also true, and unfolds like a horror story. I will not go into it, but if you are fond of true crime, this will definitely hold your attention!
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I was surprised to find that this was a great read! It's not very often that a non-fiction book reads like fiction. If you're a history buff or a fan of the City of Chicago, this book is a must read. Don't miss it!
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A largely historical work that reads like a novel. It's about the planning, design and building of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair (The White City) The book becomes decidedly more interesting as it slowly at first introduces Dr. H. H. Holmes (The Devil), a psychopathic killer, his "murder castle" and the tangled web of lies, deception and murder that comes unraveled in the end due to the work of a tireless and brilliant detective. Not for the squeemish!
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Helpful Score: 1
While I enjoyed this book I found it to more about the fair then Holmes and his crimes. They never truly intersect and the way the chapters toggle back and forth between the 2 stories it seemed like I was reading 2 different books. But, while it was full of very specific history about the World's Fair I found that part more interesting than the story of Holmes, which is why I got this book in the first place. The ending just seems to be a tacked on "oh, and this is what happened to Holmes after the fair" at an attempt to make it more legit. I loved Erik Larson's writing though, I felt like I was really in Chicago in the late 1800's!
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Winner of the Edgar award for best fact crime story. A tale of two men and their works: the brilliant architect who organized the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago (the first venue for the Ferris Wheel --America's answer to the Eiffel Tower--and alternating current, among other innovations) and a cunning and brutal serial killer who used the fair to lure his victims.
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Excellent book for lovers of American History, Cultural History, Mysteries and ARCHITECTURE.
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This book discusses an interesting event in US history - the 1893 World's Fair held in Chicago. Larson identifies the major players, descriptive events, monumental changes, and interesting personalities. The book started off with a lot of architectual design and intrigue but waned as the story progressed. Architecture was replaced with colorful people and new, profound inventions. For the history buff, this is a good book to add to the repertoire.
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Very interesting! I never knew how the Columbian Exhibition got its name, not to mention how amazing it was to pull together such a massive attraction. The added weirdness of the serial murderer and the additional psychotic who ruined the last day of the fair were also interesting additions.
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Really enjoyed this book! Well written, and lots of ah-ha moments when historical events/characters are slowly revealed. Enjoyable read.
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I found the book fascinating. Interesting blend of history and entertainment. And well written. Book was a finalist in the National Book Award.
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Reviewed by K. Osborn Sullivan for TeensReadToo.com

In 1893, Chicago was gearing up for its shining moment on the international stage. The city had been selected to host the World's Fair, beating out New York and a number of other American contenders. A prominent local architect, Daniel Burnham, had taken the reins to organize and construct the massive project. He assembled a dream team of architects, landscapers, engineers, and other professionals to help pull the fair together. Certainly Chicago could outdo the Paris Fair, which had been a worldwide success years earlier.

Unfortunately for Burnham and his team, everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. Due to a lack of organization and bickering among the committees responsible for the fair, construction began far later than it should have. Partially completed buildings blew over and burned down. Union workers threatened strikes. One sideshow act showed up a year early, while another (which was believed to be made up of cannibals) killed the man sent to retrieve them and never showed up at all. And there was a monster on the loose. A man who used the chaos of Chicago at this time in history to conceal the murders of dozens of people - many of them young, single women. A man who constructed a building with stolen money, then used the building as a slaughterhouse to lure, kill, and dispose of his victims.

THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY is a terrific book. It is nonfiction, but it reads like a novel. The real-life details of this story seem almost too bizarre to be true, yet this is one example of the old saying that "truth is stranger than fiction." The author, Erik Larson, even includes a lengthy section at the back where he documents his facts and explains his suppositions.

The book's chapters alternate between the World's Fair and the exploits of serial killer, Dr. H.H. Holmes. I found myself enjoying both stories, as they ran parallel throughout the book. The Herculean task of putting together the fair in record time was fascinating, and the sociopathic actions of Dr. Holmes were chilling. It made for a brilliant contrast - just when the frustrations of the Fair seemed overwhelming, the book switched to Dr. Holmes as he lured yet another young woman into his web. And just when Dr. Holmes' evil seemed too much to bear, the chapter would end and the reader would be back at the World's Fair dealing with political back stabbing, instead of Holmes' more literal variety.

I rarely read nonfiction, but this book came highly recommended to me, so I gave it a try. I'm so glad I did, too. It offers a wonderful historical perspective on Chicago and the world near the close of the 19th century. For a Chicago-area native like me, its frequent mentions of famous local names, like Burnham and Adler and Marshall Field, that still grace street signs and the sides of buildings, were an added treat. Just a brief word of warning, though: it does contain some of the dreaded "adult themes." Some of Dr. Holmes' crimes are described - although not too graphically - and they might be upsetting for "younger or more sensitive" readers.

I strongly recommend THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY to anyone who enjoys an engrossing, well-written story, whether they normally read fiction or nonfiction. In particular, if readers have a book report in school, this book should be considered. It makes history come alive.
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Slow to start, but revs up into a book you don't want to put down. A must read for any chicagoan. Very interesting look at an important historical period for the city, as well as the world. You'll be amazed by the people involved in the fair- and possibly amazed at how little has changed in chicago politics. Not so much a murder mystery as insight into how far our criminal justice system has come. The murder's are a very interesting side story.
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Anyone who has coordinated a big project will marvel at the planning it took to organize the World's Fair. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong - yet it was a beautiful exposition. The serial murder subplot is creepy, but fascinating. I loved this book!
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This was a strange book -- enjoyable, but unlike any other book I've read. It was a non-fiction book written like a fiction book, and its two topics -- the serial killer H. H. Holmes and the planning and execution of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair were connected only tangentially. The writing style took a little getting used to as well. But the information about the World's Fair was very interesting and worth knowing.
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Not long after Jack the Ripper haunted the ill-lit streets of 1888 London, H.H. Holmes (born Herman Webster Mudgett) dispatched somewhere between 27 and 200 people, mostly single young women, in the churning new metropolis of Chicago; many of the murders occurred during (and exploited) the city's finest moment, the World's Fair of 1893. Larson's breathtaking new history is a novelistic yet wholly factual account of the fair and the mass murderer who lurked within it. Bestselling author Larson (Isaac's Storm) strikes a fine balance between the planning and execution of the vast fair and Holmes's relentless, ghastly activities. The passages about Holmes are compelling and aptly claustrophobic; readers will be glad for the frequent escapes to the relative sanity of Holmes's co-star, architect and fair overseer Daniel Hudson Burnham, who managed the thousands of workers and engineers who pulled the sprawling fair together 0n an astonishingly tight two-year schedule. A natural charlatan, Holmes exploited the inability of authorities to coordinate, creating a small commercial empire entirely on unpaid debts and constructing a personal cadaver-disposal system. This is, in effect, the nonfiction Alienist, or a sort of companion, which might be called Homicide, to Emile Durkheim's Suicide. However, rather than anomie, Larson is most interested in industriousness and the new opportunities for mayhem afforded by the advent of widespread public anonymity. This book is everything popular history should be, meticulously recreating a rich, pre-automobile America on the cusp of modernity, in which the sale of "articulated" corpses was a semi-respectable trade and serial killers could go well-nigh unnoticed.
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY REVIEW
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I thought this account of the 1893 World's Fair was great. As the advertising for the book says, there was murder, magic and madness during the planning and creation of the world's greatest fair. You can't believe how many products we still use today made their first appearance at this fair (like Cracker Jacks!).
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Fascinating book about the World's fair era of the city. (Read Sinclair's Jungle prior to it for an idea of what the city was like when Fair planning began.) Excellent research tied into a nice flowing story. Make you want to head right over to the site and take a closer look at Chicago's layout and modern architecture.
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Historical but reads like a novel. Very engaging; keeps you on your toes. Great read
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I love the parallel stories of the world's fair and the Chicago serial killer. Very intriguing, especially with the historical context and the development of the fair. Recommend it!
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This was an incredible book. It is non-fiction but reads like a suspense novel while still loaded with amazing facts. Certainly one of a kind. I thought the subject looked boring but it was highly recommended so gave it a try. Amazing!
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This book jumps back and forth between two story lines that are happening at the same time and in the same place. I found it a bit confusing at times to keep up with the characters in both.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. It was an interesting historical novel. A little gruesome in places, but not overly so.
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I couldn't put this book down. At first I thought all the exact quotes and documentation would feel heavy, but they really enhance the story. It's impressive how much research the author did. All the detail made the story so interesting. And I loved the two stories woven together. I loved this book!
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Wow. This was such a fascinating and interesting true account of the Chicago Worlds Fair. The author did an incredible amount of research to put together a detailed account of the events surrounding the fair. I was really drawn in to the drama and the history of this great read.
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It took me 2 weeks to get through this book. Mainly because it's been crazy in my life lately, but also because this is, in some ways, a dry book. I was fascinated by the architecture and building practices of the time. The history of foundations in the Chicago area, the time/effort/labor it took, all that stuff interested me. BUT it did seem to drag on and on at times. The Holmes connection wasn't really connected, it happened at the same time and I think the fair only allowed him to get away with it because of the large number of people and craziness that went down around there. I wish we had heard more of the Holmes story and a little less of the fair. They were inter-woven, yes, but I think they deserved equal time.

Having said that, it is a good book, a bit tedious, definitely not a beach read. It did make me go look up more information and pictures about the fair. I always knew we had one there back then, but I didn't really know much about it. The whole project seems huge and frankly, amazing, for the time. Impressive.
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This book was recommended by someone who knows I like history,and had read and enjoyed Larson's Isaac's Storm. I was not disappointed in the least! It is a fascinating read!
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An amazing history of the Chicago 1893 World's Fair and the serial killer that used the masses to his advantage.
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Good story.. A little confusing at times but still very interesting. Can 't believe I never heard of that heinous serial killer.. Worse than Jack the Ripper!
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I thought this was a great book. There was so much that I learned from it. I learned all about the architecture of Chicago, where I'm from. These are buildings that are still there. The world's fair, serial killings I didn't know about. His writing is so descriptive I can't believe there was so much in such a small book.
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I found this book very interesting and very different from what I usually read.
The parts about the history at the time were really interesting and I had
never heard od serial killer Holmes before. Would definitely recommend this
book!
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I got this because I had a long drive and everyone recommended the book. It was very entertaining and well narrated. I haven't read the book so I'm not sure how much of it was abridged, it seemed complete to me.
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Really interesting book - combining the planning and building of the Chicago World's Fair in the late 1800's with the doings of a serial killer residing in the area at the same time. Interestingly, the stories work well together and provide a fascinating glimpse into the city's history. As a former Chicagoan and an architecture buff, this was a great read.
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Must read for anyone who is interested in the history of Chicago, but anyone else will enjoy it too. I couldn't put this book down.
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Enjoyed this book very much especially the fact that it was a true story. Would recommend to any history buffs, like me.
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Written the way a history book should be! I typically classic works of fiction almost exclusively, but I couldn't put this book down. I've been recommending it to history buffs and fiction fans alike. Larson's attention to detail is breathtaking, and the juxtaposition of the two primary plots is intriguing. Most impressive. A great read.
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Truth really is stranger than fiction! Intrieging story intertwining the life of the architect behind the 1893 World's Fair and the serial killer who used the fair as a hunting ground for his victims.
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Basically two non-fictional stories... the 1893 Chicago World's Fair from conception to completion and the unbelievable story of a physician mass murderer during this time period. The thread in common is Chicago. A good read - provides a lot of background of life at the end of the 19th century.
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These stories are each rich in detail and woven together beautifully.
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One of the best books I'read. I recommend it highly. Keeping it to share with family and to re-read someday.
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Great Book...Learned a lot about the history of the World's Fair in Chicago and Dr. Holmes. The book was a tad bit boring at times but overall a good read.
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One of the best books I've read in awhile! I could hardly put it down. The writing style is fairly obvious, but Larson has woven the complex story of two intertwining historical events together in such a skillful way, that you are compelled to keep reading.
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This is a great book- very exciting to read as well as very informative. Reads like a mystery story, but it's non-fiction!
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I had seen this book several times and waited to request it, thinking I knew the story pretty well. I knew about H.H.Holmes and his hotel and of the fair but this book goes so far beyond what you think you know. It's pretty chilling but fascinating at the same time and transports you back to that time of American ingenuity as well as showing you a look into the life and mind of a completely soulless sociopath. It's WELL worth the read!
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Parallel stories from the same moment in time. The development of the World's Fair of Chicago, and the murderer who rocked the Midwest with his murder complex are switched between every couple of chapters keeping you in the moment with the splendor of the fair, and the evil just out side of town.
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Excellent look into the minds of some fascinating people from the past. I couldn't put it down.
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I really enjoyed this book and hesitated parting with it. I also learned about architects and landscapers. I'll look for the same people when I get to NYC and see various buildings there. Of course, it was meant to be a crime story about the Chicago World's Fair, and it was excellent.
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This was really fun to read. I learned a bunch of things I didn't know. The things that sticks with me most are the story of the Ferris Wheel and the connection to Disney.
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good read. mostly non-fiction with embellishments. More about the fair than about the killer. both parts interesting. who knew all those things about the fair? i didnt!
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Being from Chicago, loved the book and knowing that it was based on a true story.
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This is a terrific non-fiction book about the creating of the Chicago World's Fair at the turn of the century. It is at the same time, the story of the first serial killer. It was fascinating to read about how the fair came to be, and how the serial killer fits into the story. Well-written, excellent book.
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I have read this book twice. It is a engrossing mystery. It takes you back to the time of the 1893 World's Fair with a wonderful discription of the era.
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A bit dense, but well worth it. A masterful weaving of 2 parallel worlds.
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This was not only an amazing story but it was full of fun facts. I enjoyed that it was historical so I really learned a lot. For me it started slow but once it picked up I couldn't wait to know what happened next.
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Wow, details details details, Erik Larson really got it right this time. I was disappointed in his non-fiction In the Garden of Beasts, but if he had written that book like he wrote this book, he would have had 5 stars in my opinion. The historical details and factoids in this book were amazing. The time period is FASCINATING with all the firsts happening for a young America. The characters were deep and interesting, and the story took hold and held on to you to the end. A favorite for sure!
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Two different stories and/or characters
are developed around the building of the
Chicago Worlds fair.
Larson, the historian, really becomes a novelist.
a very engrossing book.
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This was a fascinating mix of history and mystery. I learned a lot about the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 and how it came to be. There was also a serial killer in the city at the time and that story was interesting as well.
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Brilliant, beautiful book! I couldn't put it down. The intrigue of the old World's Fair combined with a serial killer is a very unusual combination, but in Erik Larson's capable hands, it works!
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The chapters that set out facts about the Chicago Exposition are fabulous - the chapters about the murders are only a little less so.
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I enjoyed this book more than I expected to. I picked it because of my interest in crime stories, but found myself unexpectedly drawn in by the historical information. In this book, I found history to be as interesting as fiction.
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As a big fan of big city architecture and history/suspense, this book was a great find. My brother loaned it to me, and then I went and bought my own copy.
Erik Larson writes wonderful historic novels about real calamities; this one is at the top of my favorites list. He entwines 2 stories together beautifully; the building of the Worlds' Fair in late 1800's Chicago along with the tale of a maniac who preys on women.
It's one of those books I didn't want to put down. As a result I've purchased all the books Mr. Larson has written!
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I totally enjoyed this book. The details about the fair, the architecture, the culture and then the contrast of the murder was a unique take on the subject. I recommend this book to those who love history with a bit of the macabre thrown in.
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I decided to read this book because it had gotten such great reviews. I like historical fiction and thought this was written to feel that way. It ended up being a big disappointment for me. I liked the story and the information presented, especially once it got to the actual fair happening. I did learn a lot of interesting things about American history but I found the book to be extremely slow and dry. Yes, there is a story about a serial killer but it's not as vivid and compelling as reviews of the book led me to believe. I think you have to really enjoy history to truly appreciate this book. It took me almost two months to get through it, which is very slow for me but my father-in-law is a retired history teacher and he read it in 24 hours. Keep that in mind when considering whether or not you want to read this one!
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This book restored my faith in the ability of a non-fiction author to keep me reading through the night. It sits atop my list today and will always remain in my top five. I can't believe my school education failed me so thoroughly that I had never heard either of the two fascinating stories in this book. The history I learned here could not have been portrayed in a more engaging way. The events of this fair in Chicago brought about a turning point in American society and a great many inventions and product introductions will surprise the reader. This story is combined with a parallel true story with shocking and gruesome details. I highly recommend this book to all serious readers and even those not so serious who are looking for a might want to learn something about the past.
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Listened to the audio tape. This was a great combination of historical fiction and suspense. I learned a lot about the Fair and the key players involved. Fascinating! Marian
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The Devil in the White City follows two men living in Chicago in the era of the 1893 Chicago Worlds Fair. Daniel Burnham, the chief architect of the fair, and Dr. H. H. Holmes, a cunning, charming murderer masquerading as a physician, pharmacist and businessman. This non-fiction books combination of ambitious individuals seems unlikely, but the book does an excellent job of intertwining the stories.

The fair came together despite seemingly unbeatable odds, and I was rooting for Burnham through the entire book. While Holmes actions were despicable, its morbidly interesting when a writer tries to get into the mind-set of a psychopathic serial killer. The author, Erik Larson, certainly did his research and his result is something both history buffs and thrill seekers will enjoy.
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The book has a lot of interesting facts about the Worlds Fair and how it was built. Also woven in with the details or America's first serial killer HH Holmes. This is not a quick read. There are so many interesting facts that I found myself looking things up online just to see if they were true.
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This is an incredible book re the 1893 World Exposition in Chicago. A virtual who's who of the time. A serial killer is on the loose in the midst of the planning and building of the World's Fair and no one seems to notice! The author managed to pull all the characters together using notes, articles, letters, etc from the times and did a wonderful job doing it. Loved it!
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The book takes a meandering walk through the architecture designed and almost magically completed for the Chicago World's Fair. Some of the buildings still stand! However, I wanted to know about the guy who was killing people, so the first third or so was pretty dull to me. It really picks up when the killer is discussed, and the completion of his building with all sorts of "useful" rooms was awfully interesting. This book was a National Book Award Finalist.
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Typical of Larson's writing, this is yet another excellent example of deep research and a compelling narrative style. I recommend this book to anyone with a fascination of turn-of-the-century historical writings.
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This book is very well researched and fascinating for about the first 75 pages. However, I lost interest quickly with all the infighting and revising of the parks. The pace for me slowed to a screeching halt and I was not able to make myself finish.
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Chicago, Illinois, circa 1893. The true tale of two men-the brilliant architect behind the legendary 1893 World's Fair, and a cunning serial killer who used the fair to lure his victims to their death. Newly discovered history meshing with the best of murderous fiction.
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Winner of the Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime. Takes place in Chicago around 1893. It has two stories going on simultaneously. The first abou the brilliamt architect behind the legendary 1893 World's Fair. The second story is about a serial killer who used the Fair to lure his victims to their death.
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Really enjoyed this one. Lives up to reviews. Wish it had more photos, but than it was 1890ish. Ends a bit aburptly, but than, that's real life. Highly recommend.
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Very Interesting Read. It wasn't quite what I expected it to be. It borders somewhere between biography and novel.
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This book was my first introduction to Erik Larson. Needless to say, I became an immediate fan.

This book follows what I have come to recognize as trademark Larson: he takes two real life (and seemingly unrelated) characters and weaves them seamlessly into the same overarching story. In this case, he combines architect Daniel H. Burnham and serial killer H. H. Holmes. Then he places them squarely into the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago.

This book was incredibly well written, thoroughly researched, and fun to read. It was equally educational, historical, and creepy. Burnham should be admired for his accomplishments. Holmes was flat out disturbing.

This book fell right into my wheelhouse: late 1800s, murder mystery, just the right amount of historical information, great character building, and solid story telling. I highly recommend it.
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zzzzzzzzz i tried multiple times to get into this story. It did not grab my attention or hold it, the writer's style is just too dry and boring for my taste so I gave up. My husband suffered through the book and said it was dull and he did not enjoy reading it either. the number of reviews that are possitive is astonishing. I just did not feel compelled to pick this up, or to stick with it.
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History comes to life. Astonishingly well researched and detailed recounting of the turn-of-the (last) century Chicago Worlds Fair. Readers of Thunderstruck will find the format familiar, and no less interesting. Great read.
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Great if you have an interest in the early history of Chicago and the first world's fair -- murder added intrigue and was well done but found the story somewhat unnerving and difficult to read.
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The book was very well written and is full of historical events and characters. It was interesting to see how people related to each other, good and bad, to complete an important project as the World's Fair. Horrendous behavior and it is scary to think there are people out there who actually do these things--and succeed.
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Wow! When my friend recommended this book to me, the story of the serial killer is not what I expected at all. It was such an interesting true story! I love history, so being able to learn about the World's Fair and its impact on the United States was very interesting. I am not really into suspense or murder mysteries, but this book completely drew me in. I liked that there weren't too many horrific details, but at the same time, the author left some areas up to the reader to decide what happened. It was still creepy enough to get into the mind of the killer. I would definitely recommend this!
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My book club really enjoyed this book. It is a good one for ddiscussion.
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This book tells the story of the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, and how a cunning serial killer used the fair to lure his victims to their deaths.
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A novel of the world's fair in Chicago of 1893, which combines mystery, magic and the transition from one century to the next, with real and devised characters; a real page turner.
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I loved this book. It is an interesting story about the Chicago World's fair of 1893. It goes into great detail in its descriptions of the buildings and the inside workings of this historical event. In addition, it also documents the story of a mass murder that was active during this time.
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Interesting pairing of two subjects: The World's Fair and serial killer Dr. H.H. Holmes.
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This was one of my first books on tape, it has 12 CDs, it was probably more than I wanted to know, especially about the mass murderer. I guess when I read, I automatically re-read or skip some parts, but that is difficult with CDs (I listen in the car).
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Incredible, must-read. The story of the creation of the Chicago Colombian Exposition is beautifully paralled with the true-story of one of Chicago's most sinister murderers.
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This was a very interesting book. A nice mix of history and suspense.
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If you enjoy murder mystery, sloothing and history this is a good, also well done on audio.
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This was a great read. So glad I finally got around to reading it.
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This book has received a lot of hype recently and thus, I decided to give it a try but was disappointed. The book focused more on the history of the fair and less on the murders of H.H.Holmes, which is what I thought the book was about. I read the book thinking it would be a thriller/suspense novel and it was more of a history lesson on the creation of the fair. I did learn a lot due to all of the interesting facts throughout the novel, however it reminded me of a history lecture. History buffs will love this book, especially if you are interested in the history of the Midwest.
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Fascinating.
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Exceptional book...had no idea of significance of 1893 Chicago World's Fair, nor the associated good and bad things that happened at the fair. This book is factual and based on true events, which I prefer over pure fiction.
Writing is excellent, and believable...has short chapters, and made reading the book something to look forward to. DO NOT research this event on Google, or several surprises will be spoiled that are detailed in the text.
Will probably not keep the book, but am now going back and re-reading several key areas. Excellent details referring to civil engineering challenges, social changes, and a crime element.
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Very good. Well done. Spares any graphic description of the murders. The telling of the world's fair story is a great counterpoint to the madness of H.H. Holmes.

After reading the book, I listened to the abridged audiobook version, I found that Netflix has a documentary you can rent ( H.H. Holmes: America's First Serial Killer
) that shows pictures of Holmes and the castle. Worth checking out if you like the story.

After reading or listening, you should check out the wikipedia page on H.H. Holmes, ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H._H._Holmes ) The entry on Holmes is very good and helped put the video documentary and this book into perspective.

I do not like true crime, per say, but this was very well done and very interesting story. What the book does not point out, you can see in the video, and the wikipedia page is a good incapsulation of the events.

The one interesting tidbit was they did not use fingerprints in 1895 to identify people. Fingerprinting started in 1903.
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Totally compelling. Couldn't put it down.
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I enjoyed this book. It wove two story lines together. One was the struggles with the Chicago Worlds Fair in the early 1890's. The other told of a nasty serial killer at the same time. The two stories intersected here and there --Very well done. I liked it so much I loaned it to my father and now am posting for another. I will be reading more by this author.
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Even more fascinating because it's based on a true events!
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This book is absolutely flawless. I'm becoming a huge Erik Larson fan. HIs research is thorough and intense. His writing is absolute perfection. I felt like I was there, at the Chicago's World's Fair, watching this story come alive. This book is so much more than just a story of H. H. Holmes. It's about the fair, the Chicago government at the time, and the architecture of the day. This is the third Erik Larson book I've read and I see a pattern. He's enthralled with cruise ships, wireless communication as it's coming into being, and all the excitement of new beginnings at the turn of the century. I like where he's going and I intend to follow. Bravo!
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Akept me reading, a lot of American history about the 1930's
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True story - Chicago World's Fair 1893 - serial murderer uses Fair to lure victims. Great insight into making of Fair.
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An absorbing and very interesting piece of American history that few people know about.
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I found this book very interesting. I liked how the author laced the book with a lot of little details about how the fair was connected to so many people and cultural events that we are so familiar with today. Some parts were a little slow, but over all it was a good read!
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Finalist for the National Book Award. An atmospheric blend of history and mystery. Well deserves the great buzz.
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I read this book several years ago and it is finally confirmed. Erik Larson is a genius! Even has a little Disney in it.
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This is a fascinating tale of the construction of the 1893 World's Fair and an evil man who resides in Chicago at the same time. Based on a true incident.
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Winner of the Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime
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Interesting facts on the Chicago World's Fair and a true serial killer. Reads so much like a novel that the reader forgets this is history.
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My book club did not like this book but I did. I thought it very interesting. Almost like watching a movie that tells the story of 2 main characters who don't realize they connect. Forgot it was nonfiction in a lot of places. It has been compared to IN Cold Blood but I liked Devil MUCH better.
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Very interesting history read.
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This book could get a bit tedious at times with all of the details, but I enjoyed it. Larsen really brought history to life for me. The numerous historical facts that originated with the Chicago World's Fair is so interesting. I found it amazing that so much was accomplished during this time period, especially given the ailments that most people had to contend with.
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Loved it! If you want to know where the Ferris Wheel came from, then read this! Great historical fiction!
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Two separate stories that run parallel to each other, both going on at the same time in history. I'm usually a strictly "fiction" reader, and I read this book on a family recommendation. This historical account is anything but dry! I loved the writing style and it drew me in right away.
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Great read! I loved the history -- written like a novel -- lots of "name-dropping". The "devil" sections were right out of a horror novel.
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This is one those books I was arfraid to read because of all the hype around it. I have been disappointed before. But, althought non fiction, this tale of murder and the Chicago World Fair in 1893 was very enthralling. I recommend to anyone.
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This is a fascinating book about the 1893 Chicago World's Fair...and a serial killer who lured women to horrible fates before, during, and after the fair.
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Well researched book on the World's Fair in Chicago and a serial murder that took place at the same time
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At times this reads a little bit like a dry history book, especially when Larson starts introducing dozens of people in a chapter. If you like true crime, you can get through the history of the worlds fair and enjoy.
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Winner of Edgar award for best fact fiction. The 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, blends fact and fiction. Great story.
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A nice non-fiction read, filled with a lot of tidbits about the roots of some of our modern conveniences, which debuted at the exposition. Also a second thread about a serial killer who operated during the fair's duration. Reads well and is informative.
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Facinating! "Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair (Chicago) that changed America" Meticulous research by an excellent author.
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A great book about the Chicago World's Fair - chapters alternate between the people responsible for the Fair and a serial killer during this time.
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This was a great read and unforgetable. I can't see or hear anything about the Chicago World's Fair without thing of this book. Mesmerizing!
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This is a fascinating book which I highly recommend. If you are interested in history and crime, pick up this book. You won't be able to put it down.
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I am a history and architecture buff so I had a hard time putting this book down.
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fascinating My husband is reading it before me and he usually only reads true crime but in a way this is .
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After reading "Thunderstruck" by Eric Larson, I was very eager to read more of his work.

This is another great story! It tells about the Chicago World Fair of 1893 (world's first Ferris wheel, first zipper, first pancake mix, etc. ...) and what it took to make it happen. The main character here is Daniel Burnham, the chief architect and organizer. Interlaced is the second story about a serial killer who used the increased traffic of people visiting the world fair to lure more victims to their death. Prior to this I had never even heard of H.H. Holmes, but he apparently was very prolific.

Both storylines are interesting in themselves, but Larson combines them in a way that prevents you from putting down the book!
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This was my book club's choice one month, and all of us loved it!
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Murder, magic, and madness at the fair that changed America!

Engrossing American history.
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Learned alot about the Chicago world's fair and a serial killer that had never really been publicized much
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Very interesting read. A great book for someone interested in History. All about the world's fair in Chicago and a serial murderer too.
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excellent book!
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One of my favorite book club reads ever. Historically captivating.
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Very detailed and descriptive! Lots of research went into this one!
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A gripping story! Read it!
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It was very interesting look at Chicago World's fair and what happened around it!
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very good
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Excellent , 2012.
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Great book !
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Excellent!
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One of my favorite reads last year. I've recommended to all my friends. Nonfiction that reads like a goodmurder mystery!
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Facinating! Reads like fiction. Gory, historical non-fiction.
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My husband really enjoyed this book. A very good read!
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Enjoyed. Learned alot of history. A litle detailed in places.
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Fabulous read, I loved it wholeheartedly.
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GREAT book! I couldnt put it down!
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The chapters on the fair are fascinating and fun to read. The chapters about the devil are well-written but not valuable, and not tied in enough to enhance the other chapters. If you get it, just skip to the chapters about the White City. You'll be glad you did.
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Great story- loved all the info about the world's fair!
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Excellent mix of history and murder. Throughly enjoyed
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I loved this book. Lots of interesting "trivia" type facts.
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This book sparked my interest in the 1893 Chicago Columbian Expo--Interesting!
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Interesting book set in Chicago in 1893 - intertwines the tale of two men - one the archetect on the 1893 Chicago World's Fair and the other a serial killer.
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A must read for trivia experts. Larson could have left out the "devil" and still had an extremely good book.
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Loved it.
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****, Original, absorbing, fascinating, well-written, murder, magic, and a bit of modern history as well. I would choose this book again!
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I loved this book. I learned all about the 1893 Chicago World's Fair (great inventions came from this one) all against the backdrop of a serial killer!
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I liked the premise of the book, but at times the story was hard to get into. I had to restart the book a few times because I wasn't sure where it was going so I put it down for awhile and then came back to it.
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riveting historical murder mystery--based on real serial killings during the 1893 Chicago Exposition.
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Very interesting book!
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Wonderfully written, fascinating history. A lot of gore, if that sort of thing bothers you.
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Great book!
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Excellent Read... I loved this book! It is definitely a page turner.
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keep reading.....it gets better and better
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Extraordinary history of events that went underreported for years. Fascinating read for book clubs, too.
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great read hard to believe this book is nonfiction
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Couldn't get into it..
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Very interesting story.
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BRINGING CHICAGO CIRCA 1893 TO VIVID LIFE. ERIK LARSON'S SPELL-BINDING TALE INTERTWINES THE TRUE TALE OF TWO MEN.THE BRILLIANT ARCHITECT BEHID THE WORL'S FAIR & THE CUNNING SERIAL KILLER WHO USED THE FAIR TO LURE HIS VICTIMS TO THIER DEATH.
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This is an excellent book..you don't want to put it down!
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Rough story - nightmares!
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Murder, Magic, and Madness at the fair that changed America.
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Great book 4 stars
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I'm sure some might find this book entertaining, so I am reposting it. I just couldn't get past the first few chapters.
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loved this book!
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Hated it. There was just too much to get into the book.
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Excellent book. All the positive reviews here are well deserved.
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My sister got me this book as a gift, and I must say I loved it! Very informative, and it definitely wasn't what I expected.
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Has a bit of highlighting in it...
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Excellent, excellent book.
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Based on actual events (I think).
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Trade sized paperback