The Devil in the White City

I just finished reading the book, “The Devil in the White City” by Erik Larson.

This was my second book from Erik and I would be honest, before reading his work I was never interested in reading History. For the prime reason reading history was predictable and boring. I got my hands on “Dead Wake” from the same author a while back, a book on the last crossing of the Lusitania ocean liner before it got torpedoed by German U boat. I loved the way he told history. There was storytelling, drama and gripping read on the proceedings. After reading Dead Wake I was sure I was going to give all his book a read.

Coming back to the book, “The Devil in the White City”, I bought this book last year and somehow didn’t read beyond 50 pages. So, this time around I pledged to complete it and what a magical read it was.

The book is about the great Colombian exposition of 1893, which America planned to beat the earlier Paris exposition. The book goes through the bidding process to select Chicago as the city for the display, the pain it took to build the exposition. Introduction of some of the firsts such as Ferries Wheel, Shredded Wheat and visit by dignitaries such as Thomas Edison, Mark Twain, Susan B. Anthony and Daniel Burnham ( the famous architect who was behind the famous fair)

While at one side the exposition built up was in progress on the other side a disturbing story of a pretentious doctor, HH Holmes was building up. He was committing a multitude of crimes ranging from insurance fraud to debt evasion, to cheating in a suavest and polished way. But the worst of the crime was how he was wooing young women to fall in love with him and then brutally killing them for pleasure.

Erik Larson has the innate ability to tell history like a thriller tale. Do give it a try and let me know your thoughts

Copyright Β© Shantanu Baruah

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