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What to Read: Devil in the White City By Erik Larson, A Review by Neil Schubert

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June 01, 2013
What to Read
Neil Schubert

Instead of a tale of two cities, this story is two tales of one.?It is a fascinating account of the Chicago World’s Fair, held in 1893 with over 27 million attendees.?Yet in the midst of this carnival of wonders lurked the most notorious mass murderer in the history of our country.?The book is a non-fiction account, yet written in the style of a historical novel.

The Exposition had a profound impact on Chicago and the country at large.?New inventions such as the Ferris Wheel and the zipper were introduced.?Household names like Aunt Jemima and Cracker Jack were launched.?The Exposition was the culmination of the “War of Currents”, a competition between Thomas Edison (General Electric) and Nikola Tesla (Westinghouse) over DC or AC power grids.?

The author does a wonderful job of intertwining the story of the exposition along with the story of H.H. Holmes, a bright, attractive and articulate gentleman who was a doctor by trade, yet a scoundrel of perverse magnitude.

A visit to Chicago even today can include Exposition and H.H. Holmes tours, though very little remains of the white city, and the Holmes Hotel was destroyed in 1938.? Burnham once said, “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood.”?Rest assured, this book will stir your blood.
[Review by Neil Schubert, Marriott]

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