The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America (Hardcover)
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The true tale of the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago and the cunning serial killer who used the magic and majesty of the fair to lure his victims to their death.
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. Erik Larson’s gifts as a storyteller are magnificently displayed in this rich narrative of the master builder, the killer, and the great fair that obsessed them both.
About the Author
Erik Larson is the author of six New York Times bestsellers, most recently The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz, which examines how Winston Churchill and his “Secret Circle” went about surviving the German air campaign of 1940-41. Larson’s The Devil in the White City is set to be a Hulu limited series; his In the Garden of Beasts is under option by Tom Hanks for a feature film. He recently published an audio-original ghost story, No One Goes Alone, which has been optioned by Chernin Entertainment, in association with Netflix. His Thunderstruck has been optioned by Sony Pictures Television for a limited TV series. Larson lives in Manhattan with his wife, who is a writer and retired neonatologist; they have three grown daughters.
“Engrossing . . . exceedingly well documented . . . utterly fascinating.” —Chicago Tribune
“A dynamic, enveloping book. . . . Relentlessly fuses history and entertainment to give this nonfiction book the dramatic effect of a novel. . . . It doesn’t hurt that this truth is stranger than fiction.” —The New York Times
"So good, you find yourself asking how you could not know this already." —Esquire
“Another successful exploration of American history. . . . Larson skillfully balances the grisly details with the far-reaching implications of the World’s Fair.” —USA Today
“As absorbing a piece of popular history as one will ever hope to find.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Paints a dazzling picture of the Gilded Age and prefigure the American century to come.” —Entertainment Weekly
“A wonderfully unexpected book. . . Larson is a historian . . . with a novelist’s soul.” —Chicago Sun-Times