Book Review: The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson

13 Dec

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed AmericaMy rating:  2.5 out of 5 stars

This novel follows two intertwining stories:  all of the construction for the opening of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and a serial killer living in Chicago at the same time.  Both aspects of the story are true.

I picked this book up because someone told my friend it was their favorite book of all time.  I take that as a very serious assertion and had to find out what could make it someone’s favorite.  I still don’t quite know.

Do you remember having to write a research paper in high school or college?  The project had to follow a certain order of operations like:  pick a topic, find resources and put quotes from them on index cards, write an outline (that you had to turn in) and then write the paper?  I think that’s the gist.  Imagine the topic you chose to write about had so much information that it would have yielded an entire room full of index cards.  Now imagine you incorporated every single fact on every single index card into your paper.  That’s Devil in the White City.  While it’s obvious that the author did an exorbitant amount of research, he thought we were as in love with these topics – particularly the Fair construction – as he was.  I don’t believe a single detail was edited out of this book.

Each chapter was so chock full of information that I struggled to stay interested.  And it was pretty fascinating what they pulled off for the world’s fair in such a short time with little money.  But the detail around all of this was just too much.  The alternate story about H.H. Holmes and his macabre serial killer life was honestly all that keep me going.  And  even that I didn’t think was that creepy.  I mean don’t get me wrong, it was creepy, but not THAT creepy, especially since it wasn’t posed as a mystery.  You knew he was doing it.

Okay, all of that being said really means this book was just okay in my opinion.  The juice wasn’t worth the squeeze as my boss would say.  Struggling through this book wasn’t worth it in my opinion.  But if you like history and non-fiction and the late 1800s in America, this might be a good one for you!

One Response to “Book Review: The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson”


  1. Book Review: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand « Love a Little Lit! - January 29, 2012

    […] was the first non-fiction book I picked up since Devil in the White City.  If you recall my review of Devil, you’ll remember that I really struggled with the tediousness of the historical […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: