The Devil in the White City

Physical Copy:


By: Erik Larson

Rating: B

The book is about the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago and the two men that left a lasting impression on the fair.

One was the Chief Architect of the fair’s White city, Daniel Hudson Burnham, and the other was America’s first serial killer, H. H. Holmes.

Palmer House

I listened to this entire book on audible while walking around Chicago. It was fascinating staying in the Palmer Hotel that was a setting for pieces of the book, walking around parks where H. H. Holmes hid in plain sight, and taking in the incredible architecture that Chicago had to offer.

Architectural Boat Tour Listening to the book.

Securing the World’s Fair was a huge accomplishment and economic driver for the city of Chicago. Over the course of the 6 months the fair was open, it logged 27.5 million visits when the US population was only 65 million. There were countless first evers littered throughout the fair and the construction of the fair. It detailed the politics of winning the bid for the fair and the closed door dealings that led to the construction of one of the most iconic fairs in history.

Daniel Burnham was one of the main forces orchestrating all of it. Burnham was one of the most successful architects ever designing the master plan for Chicago, Manila, and Washington, D.C. He also designed several iconic buildings in New York City (the Flatiron Building), Philadelphia (John Wanamaker’s Department Store), and Washington D.C. (Union Station).

All of these stories paralleled stories of the sociopath, H. H. Holmes. He got his start conning people out of their life insurance and resorted to pretty twisted murders and complicated cover ups.

I don’t want to give away too many details aside from it was well-written and held my attention even in the details. It is fun to break up the business and self-help books with well-written stories.


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