Okay so as a Mom it’s hard to take time to read. I listen to a lot of audio books but sometimes I just want to sit down and read. It’s taken me a couple months of off and on reading but I finally finished reading Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson. I hated putting it down as much as I had to but kids and life take up a lot of my time. My family has been recommending the book to me for a long time and I can 100% say that I should have listened and read it earlier. It’s important to note that I’m not a fan of non-fiction. I find that it’s often dry or too focused on dates and numbers to enjoy. I love historical fiction though and this book reads like a crazy crime drama. The insane part is that it’s reality and not fiction. Erik Larson weaves together information from letters, newspaper articles, books, journals, and other historical records to paint a picture that’s bound to draw you in.
The book follows the stories of several individuals through the lead up, running, and conclusion of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Larson manages to make the lives of long-dead people interesting and relatable. It’s easy to think of the designers of the World’s Fair as actual people and not just names on a list of contributing minds. I feel like I know so much more about things that I’ve seen all of my life. Through this novel I’ve learned more about architecture, the lives of famous people like Buffalo Bill, the origins of Pabst Blue Ribbon, the first Ferris Wheel, and so much more. I found myself longing to read more about the Fair. More than once the taste of history given by Larson had me picking up my phone to do some research and dig deeper into the topics he briefly covered. Through his descriptions of the crowds at the fair and use of quotes from people who were there readers really get a sense of the excitement and power of the Fair on the entire nation, especially Chicago. I’ve thought about visiting Chicago before but this book settled it for me. I have to meet the city that gave birth to this story.
His rendering of H. H. Holmes is equally vivid. Holmes has been dubbed America’s first serial killer. At the time of his trial, many speculated that he was the Devil incarnate. After reading about his crimes I can see why. There were more than a few passages that made it hard to fall asleep at night. The amount of research that Larson has done on Holmes alone could fill up its own book. I think it’s important that his story be told alongside that of the Fair to better understand just how he got away with so much.
Devil in the White City was really an enjoyable and educational read. I plan on reading more of Erik Larson’s books in the future. I’ve heard great things about Issac’s Storm and In the Garden of Beasts. If you’re interested in reading Devil in the White City you can find it on Amazon by clicking the link here. (It’s even on prime!) If you have any reading suggestions please post them in the comments. Since I just finished my book I’m in search of a new great read. I look forward to sharing more books that I love with you all and hope that you love them too!