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The Devil in the White City Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America (Paperback)

Author:  Erik Larson
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Product Details:

Format: Paperback
ISBN-10: 0375725601
ISBN-13: 9780375725609
Sku: 33928058
Publish Date: 2/1/2004
Dimensions:  (in Inches) 8.25H x 5.25L x 1.5T
Pages:  464
Age Range:  NA
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From the Publisher:
"Two men, each handsome and unusually adept at his chosen work, embodied an element of the great dynamic that characterized America's rush toward the twentieth century. The architect was Daniel Hudson Burnham, the fair's brilliant director of works and the builder of many of the country's most important structures, including the Flatiron Building in New York and Union Station in Washington, D.C. The murderer was Henry H. Holmes, a young doctor who, in a malign parody of the White City, built his "World's Fair Hotel" just west of the fairgrounds - a torture palace complete with dissection table, gas chamber, and 3,000-degree crematorium. Burnham overcame tremendous obstacles and tragedies as he organized the talents of Frederick Law Olmsted, Charles McKim, Louis Sullivan, and others to transform swampy Jackson Park into the White City, while Holmes used the attraction of the great fair and his own satanic charms to lure scores of young women to their deaths. What makes the story all the more chilling is that Holmes really lived, walking the grounds of that dream city by the lake." The Devil in the White City draws the reader into a time of magic and majesty, made all the more appealing by a supporting cast of real-life characters, including Buffalo Bill, Theodore Dreiser, Susan B. Anthony, Thomas Edison, Archduke Francis Ferdinand, and others. In this book the smoke, romance, and mystery of the Gilded Age come alive as never before.
Annotation:
The 1893 Chicago World's Fair is the setting for this true account of two very different men: the celebrated architect Daniel H. Burnham who designed and supervised the construction of the "White City" around which the fair was built, and H.H. Holmes (born Herman Webster Mudgett), a fiendishly clever serial killer posing as a doctor who murdered scores of people, mostly young women, in his World's Fair Hotel, which contained a gas chamber and a handy crematorium for disposing of his victims. Telling their entwined stories in alternating points of view, Erik Larson illuminates the lives of these two men, but provides insightful commentary on the changes that were taking place in American society that allowed both phenomena--a grandiose World's Fair and a string of unsolved murders--to take place. The book contains cameo appearances by such late-19th-century celebrities as Buffalo Bill Cody, Susan B. Anthony, and Thomas Edison.
Author Bio
Erik Larson
Erik Larson has written nonfiction books on a variety of topics, but he is probably best known for his 2003 book, THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY, which contained parallel stories about the architect who oversaw the design of the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 and a ruthless serial killer who stalked the city during that time. Larson was born in Brooklyn, New York, and grew up in the suburbs of Long Island. After earning a bachelor's degree in Russian studies at the University of Pennsylvania in 1976, he began working as an editorial assistant at a New York City publishing company. Upon seeing the film ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN, Larson was inspired to earn a master's degree at the Columbia School of Journalism, and his subsequent career as a reporter included stints at the Wall Street Journal and Time. In 1992 his first book, NAKED CONSUMER: HOW OUR PRIVATE LIVES BECAME PUBLIC COMMODITIES, was published. Although it was used as the basis for a PBS documentary, NAKED CONSUMER gained little critical or commercial notice for Larson. That changed after the publication of THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY, which spent more than three years on the New York Times hardcover and paperback bestseller lists. Larson had been moved to combine the tale of H.H. Holmes, the serial killer, with that of the World's Fair because of the compelling contrast between the two topics. "This massive act of civic good will and literally in the same place, at the same time, was the opposite. . . . That's what lured me," he has explained. "In fact, I would not have been interested in just doing a book about the Fair. Nor would I have been interested in doing a book just about Holmes. But together . . . That I found kind of magical."

Praise

New York Times Book Review
"...Erik Larson...wants to tell the whole story, both the glory of Burnham's creation and the sordid details of the first known urban psychopath in American history. It is not a comfortable fit. He uses language well, but has little sense of pacing or focus, perhaps because of the huge amount of material available on the fair....There is much less material available on H. H. Holmes, and Larson tells that part of the story economically." - David Traxel 03/09/2003
Product Attributes
Product attributeeBooks:   Kobo
Product attributeBook Format:   Paperback
Product attributeNumber of Pages:   0464
Product attributePublisher:   Vintage Books
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