Rscarff's Reviews > The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
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's review
May 06, 2011

it was amazing
Read from July 21 to 25, 2011

I read this in preparation for a trip to Chicago and am glad I did, as I definitely gained appreciation for the city. But, I mentioned things I learned from the book to people I would talk to, thinking that every Chicagoan would automatically know these things, and was surprised at their responses. It's a shame how little is remembered about the 1893 World's Fair, and it is a shame that only one of the magnificent buildings built for the exposition remains standing. However, as the book details, the impact of the fair is still felt more than a century later in many different ways.

The story that Larson tells alongside that of the fair is what puts the book over the top for me, though. Truly stranger than fiction. The chilling tale of a local psychopath who killed unknown numbers of people during the years leading up to the fair ranks alongside the best non-fiction crime writing that I have read. Think "In Cold Blood," but less exhausting thanks to the presence of the largely optimistic companion narrative.
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