Commentary of The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

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The Devil in the White City is a literary nonfiction novel that is centered around the World’s Fair in Chicago. The subtitle of The Devil in the White City is “Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America.” As Erik Larson describes so vividly, the fair did just that. From the way electricity is distributed through homes, to the length of our working hours or days in a week, to cultural icons, and amusement parks. There is a brief but fascinating link between the Fair and other inventions today. The White City, as some would call it, was described as the scenery of the gleaming white colored buildings that soared into the sky and its majestic beauty. The book has the inspiration to combine two distantly related late-19th century stories into a narrative that is anything but bizarre.
One story describes the planning of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair that had been proposed to celebrate the four hundred years since Columbus landed in America. The idea didn’t get much attention until a year earlier, when Paris held a world fair and unveiled the Eiffel Tower. Not to be outdone, America decided now it was a matter of who would hold a fair that would put France’s fair to shame. There was a dilemma of where the fair would be built New York or Chicago, but votes were tallied up and the majority of the vote was Chicago. Among the many architects in Chicago, the main job of the designing the fair was given to Daniel H. Burnham. He needed a companion to help him with the design and other features of the fair, so he chose John Root, a very close friend of his and former associate. Because of the amount of time it took to decide where to build the fair, The White City was believed to be impossible to construct because of time con...

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...ther than reciting facts of the documentation, he makes the city of Chicago come alive in a way that many could not accomplish. Throughout the book it was told with abundant cross-cutting and foreshadowing. It wasn’t until after the fair when people began to realize just how many people have simply vanished during the fair. The numbers were astounding. The big question was, were the missing people during that time connected with Dr. Holmes and his killings. Many people assumed it was him because this man was a serial killer with epic proportions. After years have passed, a detective was given the assignment to uncover the truth behind Holmes and what motivated him and his psychopathic mind. The information he found was shocking. In the end it seems to tell a story of the ineluctable conflict between good and evil, daylight and darkness, the White City and the Black.

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