Friday, September 9, 2011

Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

Awh Yah. Just finished this whale of a geography/history/creepiness lesson, Devil in the White City by Erik Larson.

Spoiler alert, I might give away some exciting deets (details) in this post. In my defense it's non-fiction so you should know this stuff already...dummy. Just kidding. For me it was like history class before college, you know, when it was fun because it was about learning and discovering instead of sounding smarter than the guy next to you...Or in my case spending time blending in to avoid getting called on cause I didn't do the reading BECAUSE it was not fun reading like this was. So unless you are a Chicago history buff it will probably read much like fiction and will be fun, surprising and exciting (at times)to read.

I'm not just giving it a thumbs up or down. (Up, by the way). Do I recommend it? I sure do.

Disregarding what I said above, it does remind me of a book a college professor might assign...a nice college professor. It's too dense to be completely enjoyable. So NOT a light summer read unless maybe you're Oprah. (Anna Karenina? Seriously, Oprah?)

Get it for the Fall. And don't read it if you live alone.

Quick synopsis (in case you haven't stopped reading this to start reading the book): It's the tail end of the 19th century. Chicago wins the bid to host the World's Columbian Expedition. The architects work to build a fair that will put the French and their Eiffel Tower to shame.

MEANWHILE University of Michigan (woot! press is bad press) Medical School grad moves to Englewood and sets up shop swindling contractors and consumers and builds a murder hotel to host fairgoers.


1. Move out the way Unibomber you're not University of Michigan's only psychopath. Welcome back to the stage your predecessor H.H. Holmes aka Herman Mudgett.

2. My great great grandfather may have been the Detective that tracked down Holme's victims and got him put away for more than just fraud (family tree check: Frank Geyer?)Name and location are a the population was way smaller then. Totally plausible.

3. The Ferris Wheel made it's debut in Chicago by a man named Ferris!...and was later exploded and used for scrap metal. (spoiled surprise...sorry) So sadly, not the same wheel that stands/turns at Navy Pier today...actually that should be a comfort.

Lingering questions: Were there chads and trixies in Chicago during the World's Fair?

I previously reviewed Larson's more recent "In the Garden of Beasts," likewise this book was information heavy so the first half dragged a bit. I general whip through a book, this one took some time. I get sleepy from all the learning.

I look forward to a future trip to Chicago to check out the building(s) that are still standing. I've driven by the area countless times but now there's that added magical history there.

No comments:

Post a Comment