“Are you reading that again or is this really the first time you’re reading that book?” This is what I heard over and over again as I read The Devil in the White City (for the first time) while at my week long family reunion in the mountains. Erik Larson’s book tells the fascinating story of the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, weaving in the frightening story of a serial killer that took advantage of the many adventurous young women who were making their way to the growing city of Chicago from the rural countryside.
I got to hear opinions of the book from three different generations while at my reunion. Most loved it or at least really liked it. Those that had reservations about the book were too creeped out by the story of the serial killer. Because Larson keeps the two stories separate by starting new chapters each time he jumps from one story to the other, it is actually possible to read all about the incredible history of the World’s Fair, and skip the true crime section. It also can work the other way for those who aren’t interested in the history and just want to read the scary serial killer sections.
I was game for both stories and particularly liked the sections that dealt with how Chicago was going to outdo the Eiffel Tower that debuted at the 1889 World’s Fair. There were some really crazy submissions, including a contraption that people would ascend and then slide down cables all the way back home to the East Coast. If you don’t know what they decided on, check out The Devil in the White City. You won’t be disappointed.
The Devil in the White City