Review: The Devil in the White City Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair that Changed America

Posted: 29/06/2015 in book reviews, books
Tags: , , ,

The Devil in the White City Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair that Changed America
The Devil in the White City Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Content warnings: death, murder, descriptions of murder

This was interesting. I mean I primarily read it because it went into the topic of the killer H.H. Holmes. Because I have a weird fascination with serial killers and the why and how they kill.

I learned a LOT about Chicago in the 1890s. And that apparently Walt Disney’s father, Elias worked the exposition and told his sons about it. And that it’s speculated that Elias’ time at the white city (which was named because everything was painted white) partially inspired Walt to build Disneyland.

There’s a few things that really pulled me out of the narrative of the book though. The dinner lists of what was served for specific dinners pulled me out. As did the insistence of telling me how much large sums of money would be in today’s market. Personally for the latter, I think it would have been better at the beginning of the book to say that $20 in 1890s Chicago (well 1890s America) was equivalent to at least $100 in today’s time (actually I think it’s a little bit more than that now but when I learned that in one of the only semi useful things I learned in high school in the early 00s that’s what I was told). Then again stories of the rich really don’t appeal to my particular interests.

I liked that the author included all his research but I don’t like that the pages of research (there’s like 20 of them or so) are included in how long the book is. In reality I stopped at page like 391 or so because that’s where the citation of resources started. I also liked that the author seems to have merged the story of the exposition and Holmes’ killings so seamlessly. However some of the author’s writing in this book is a little dry (which I’d expect in a history text book to be fair but not in a book like this).

All in all it was a pretty decent book that I more or less enjoyed.

Buy it here:

Amazon|Barnes & Noble

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