The Chicago World's Fair of 1893 and its amazing 'White City' was one of the most spectacular the world has ever seen. This is the incredible story of its realization, and of the two men whose fates it linked, an architect and a serial killer. The architect was Daniel H. Burnham, the chief builder of the White City, who created a magical landscape ...
The Chicago World's Fair of 1893 and its amazing 'White City' was one of the most spectacular the world has ever seen. This is the incredible story of its realization, and of the two men whose fates it linked, an architect and a serial killer. The architect was Daniel H. Burnham, the chief builder of the White City, who created a magical landscape of white buildings set in a wonderland of canals and gardens. The killer was H. H. Holmes, a handsome young doctor with striking blue eyes. He used the attraction of the great fair - and his own devilish charms - to lure scores of young women to their death. Holmes would stroll through the fair at night, when an electric dynamo transformed it into an incandescent fairyland, with his unsuspecting victims on either arm. While Burnham overcame politics, personality clashes and the fatal Chicago winds to bring together the creative talents of his architectural team in the transformation of swampy Jackson Park into the White City, Holmes was busy constructing his own edifice just west of the fairgrounds. He called it the World's Fair Hotel and designed it to be a torture palace, complete with gas chamber and crematorium. Burnham, Holmes, and a colourful cast leap off the page of this magnificent story, as Buffalo Bill, George Ferris, Thomas Edison, and some 27 million others converge on the dazzling spectacle of the White City. Erik Larson's gifts as a story-teller are magnificently displayed in this mesmerizing tale of the legendary Fair that captured the spirit of America at the dawn of the Twentieth Century.
This is a fantastic work of historical non-fiction. Erik Larson's write style reads like fiction due to his in depth research into his subjects. This book is a tale of victory against almost insurmountable odds. It focuses on the design, building and presentation of the Chicago World's Fair. The book also tells the chilling story of a insane serial killer who just might be the devil himself. The juxtaposition of the two main characters, Frank Burnham and Mr. Holmes, is both intriguing and chilling at the same time. Do yourself a favor and pick up this little glimpse of forgotten history. You'll be happy you did.
Jan 19, 2012
wonderful history of the fair
the epilogue is most interesting as it follows up with the persons who built the fairl Look up World Fairs List and you will see the impact that the succeeding fairs have had.Very well written. There is a photographic book that is separate and it would be good to have that book as you read this one.Lots to think about
Dec 30, 2009
An Amazing Experience
It's ironic that I can't find the words to fully describe how amazing this book is. It's a tour de force of literature.
It carefully weaves the story of the 1983 World's Fair (where pretty much everything ever and everyone ever came together in Chicago) and the diabolical HH Holmes.
I expected the story of HH Holmes to be wildly more interesting than building some dumb fair. I was so wrong. These historical figures come to life in such a way that when you finish the last page, I hope you don't have any heart conditions and you're sitting down. This book is like a punch in the gut.
HH Holmes is the most believable, well rounded villain I've ever encountered. You're almost suckered in by his charm, even after you know his secrets. The fair quickly becomes your own labor of love. You watch as this Americans try to compete with the Eiffel tower - and what they come up with was shocking.
This book is fantastic. If you're still thinking to yourself "well, maybe..." no. Buy it. If you're looking for a gift for anyone, buy it. Trust me.
Apr 12, 2009
Fascinating Historical Storytelling
The story of how America's most prolific serial killer used the nations greatest engineering accomplishment to carry out his nefarious deeds.
Murder, ambition, intrigue, and the indomitable American spirit juxtapose perfectly in this tale of both the good and evil within man.
Every detail has been painstakingly researched and the narrative crafted with ever growing suspense and bewilderment.
Nearly impossible to put down.
Publishers Weekly, 2002-12-16 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. 6 b&w photos, 1 map. (Feb.) Forecast: With this book, Larson builds on the success of Isaac's Storm. Anyone with an interest in American history-in particular fans of Stephen Ambrose and David McCullough-should find much to engross them here. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly, 2003-03-03 This is a steady performance of a book that, while gripping in its content and crisply paced, isn't quite a gold mine for an audio performer. It relies on journalistic narration and includes almost no quotes, so there isn't much chance for interesting characterization. But it is excellent nonfiction, chronicling the hurly-burly planning and construction of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair (which did, as the title suggests, include building what amounted to an entire city) and a cruelly calculating sociopath who used the event's tumult and crowds to serve his homicidal compulsion. Goldwyn is an experienced narrator with a keen dramatic sense, and his resonant voice is well-suited to the project. Music is used only sparingly, but the few subdued, creepy bars Goldwyn reads over in the beginning do an excellent job of creating atmosphere for a tale that is subtle but often genuinely unsettling. Listeners will also be fascinated by descriptions of the sheer logistics of the fair itself, which serve as not only carefully crafted and informative history, but also as welcome breaks from the macabre and relentless contrivances of the killer. In all, it's a polished presentation of an intriguing book that outlines the heights of human imagination and perseverance against the depths of our depravity. Simultaneous release with the Crown hardcover (Forecasts, Dec. 16, 2002). (Feb.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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