Book Review: Devil in the White City

Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson
Generally, I am of the opinion that fact is always better than fiction. It is more scary. It is more believable. Sometimes more unbelievable. This book pretty much supports my opinion.

Larson takes a page out of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood (no pun intended) and weaves together two intricate histories of two fascinating men: one an ambitious architect, the other a cold-blooded killer.

The story of the 1893 World's Fair is stunning. The situation that the city found itself in before and after makes one wonder how any city could have managed.

Although all fact and no fiction, the book reads like a novel. There are many quotes from many letters and memoirs. One gets a good feel for the personalities of the folks involved. Lots of fun foreshadowing.

One thing that really gripped me about this book is the rich, rich history involved. I especially enjoyed the snippets of corporate history - the engineering marvels, advances in electricity, Wrigley's gum, Cracker Jacks, the unnamed beer that named itself Pabst Blue Ribbon after it won the 1st place at the fair.

The ending was more of a fade-to-black thing, but, hey, fact can't always be wrapped up in the most exciting way. I was told by some buddies that they thought the murderer's story was a bit too much, but I loved it.

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