Author: Erik Larson
Publisher: Vintage Books
Total Pages: 447
What do the 1893 World's Fair and a serial killer have in common? This is the question Erik Larson answers in his work The Devil In The White City. Set in Chicago, Larson's book depicts the series of events that brought the fair to the Windy City, while also describing the rise of one of America's most gruesome murderers.
While tackling two very different subjects, this work intertwines the two together quite nicely. Larson illustrates the difficulties encountered in winning the fair bid and then the arduous task of preparing to host such a monumental event. At the same time, he also provides the profile and history of a very scary individual, who is determined to continue killing, all the while covering his vile acts. As if this wasn't enough to engage his readers, Larson continues to draw out other interesting facts and associations of well-known Americans who were somehow associated with the fair throughout the telling of this tale.
From a reading perspective, Larson does a nice job of keeping the sections short, allowing the reader the opportunity to read small pieces, providing good stopping places. These short sections, of course, can also be read together without losing readability. The style of writing is very good, allowing for easy reading and absorption of the text. While the story of the World's Fair does receive the largest amount of attention, the author does a nice job of interspersing his tale of the "devil" in a contrasting way. This helps keep the story moving.
This book is, as the author admits, more than just the story of a murderer or the World's Fair. It is also a very telling story of the human condition in Chicago near the turn of the 20th Century. Well-written and extremely engaging, this book is definitely one worth reading.
Would I read it again? Yes
Would I recommend this book to someone else? Yes