Book Review: The Devil in the White City

Happy Tuesday everyone! I hope that y’all had a great Labor Day; Cam and I had a fantastic weekend exploring Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, and I’m really excited to share the photos with you (because I took a lot of them). However, I’m still in the process of getting them on the computer, so in the meantime I wanted to share a review of an incredible book that I had the pleasure of reading this weekend.

Since we spent a lot of time in the car over the past four days (and since Cam did basically all of the driving) I had a chance to devote some time to reading, yay! (I didn’t have much of a choice because you get zero cell reception in most of rural Wyoming, but it was fine because this story was awesome and kept me totally engrossed!)  The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson is an extremely well-written story, but the crazy part is that it’s a true. I like to alternate between reading fiction and non-fiction, and after the Hunger Games series, I was on the hunt for a good non-fiction read that would hold my interest. The Devil in the White City was published in 2004, so it’s not new, and it’s actually one that I had been meaning to read for awhile since we own it (and Cam loved it), and I thought it would be the perfect read for this weekend. Boy was I right!

Any book is made better by a giant box of Hot Tamales, no?

The book takes place in Chicago at the end of the 19th century and it alternates between the tales of two men, one being the mastermind behind the Chicago World’s Fair and the other a psychopathic serial killer. Sounds kind of strange, but Larson does an amazing job of piecing together thousand of historical details and he retells them in such a way that he really keeps you hooked. His writing is extremely descriptive and so although there are just a few small black and white photos in the book, you can very clearly imagine the grandeur of the fair that the book centers around. I think that it really shows you what a person is capable of accomplishing when they set their mind to it, both for good and for evil. 

The story also made me think a lot about how much life has changed in the past 100+ years. At that time, people traveled many miles specifically to come see this fair, and it’s many wonders, such as electric light bulbs and a giant ferris wheel, must have seemed so unbelievably incredible to them. It also really demonstrated just how easy it was for people to go missing (and just how long it took for people to notice they were gone) back before cell phones and the Internet. There are definitely parts of this story that are gruesome, but not unnecessarily so. Larson is truly a master story-teller who deftly unravels the events in such a way that, although it’s a little disturbing at some points, you want to keep reading to find out what happens. He weaves these two narratives together so intriguingly that it’s like you’re reading a fictional thriller instead of a historical account, and it’s really amazing to me that both the completion of the fair, as well as the murders, actually occurred. I would highly recommend this book to anyone that enjoys history, and it is a must for anyone that lives in or loves the city of Chicago as that’s where the story is set and the book goes into great detail about it’s amazing history. This is a book that you will not regret reading friends! 


Have a lovely week, vacation photos will be up soon! xoxo


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