Are you bored by nonfiction? Yes? Well, The Devil in the White City will change your mind about nonfiction. Seriously, I read one of Erik Larson’s books and was ready to venture to the Smithsonian in D.C. for a book signing (but I didn’t because tickets sold out in five minutes…bummer…).
For some reason, reading about serial killers has always been great fun for me. I started reading about the essential serial killers: Jack the Ripper, Charlie Manson, etc. However, this book isn’t just about serial killer, madman, and general scammer H.H. Holmes; it’s also about the head architect responsible for creating the Chicago World’s Fair in the 1800’s.
H.H. Holmes creeps me out more than most serial killers. Yes, Charlie Manson got people to kill for him and Jack the Ripper had that whole carving up lady bits thing going for him, but H.H. Holmes built a maze-like MURDER MANSION! He was a true vulture, picking out young and naïve women new to the city to tempt and trap in his crazy murder mansion.
I have a much deeper respect and admiration for architects after reading this book. After all, the World’s Fair was a marvel of construction. I doubt the quality and beauty (there are pictures in the book…I know you wanna know!) of the Chicago World’s Fair could be echoed today. I’m kind of sad that they deconstructed it instead of trying to maintain it, but when they shut it down homeless people began living there and the White City was no more (Interesting tidbit: many of the people who helped build the so-called White City were unemployed when they finished construction, thus many of the former workers began living there).