“A fascinating read about the making of the Chicago's world fair, interlaced with the story of one of Chicago's notorious serial killers. ”Lynsey wrote this review Sunday, October 20, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Fantastic!”Charlene wrote this review Friday, October 25, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“What a wonderfully researched tale of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. A great look at all of the historical figures that intersected in Chicago that summer, with a chilling look at who has become arguably America's 1st serial killer, H. H. Holmes. A look back at a fascinating time in America.”Archipelagos wrote this review Wednesday, October 16, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Esquire Magazine summed it up best. "So good, you find yourself asking how you could not know this already." This book chronicles the history of the Columbian Exposition of 1893, a.k.a. The Chicago World's Fair, and one of the worst serial killers in American history who used the famous fair to his advantage to lure his victims. This is truly one of the most fascinating books I've ever read, and I plan on taking a trip to Chicago to actually see the location where this magnificent city within a city once stood supreme. This isn't the first book that's done this to me, but it's rare that a book causes me to plan a trip. This book was that good. ”Edward B wrote this review Tuesday, October 15, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Fascinating - reads like fiction and yet full of facts. Chapter "Remains of the Day": pg 150 - During his own medical education Holmes had seen firsthand how desperate schools were to acquire corpses, whether freshly dead or skeletonized. ... In periods of acute shortage doctors themselves helped mine the newly departed.
It was obvious to Holmes that even now, in the 1890s, demand remained high. Chicago's newspapers reported ghoulish tales of doctors raiding graveyards. After a foiled raid on a graveyard in New Albany, Indiana, on February 24, 1890, Dr. W.H. Wathen, head of the Kentucky Medical College, told a Tribune reporters, "The gentlemen were acting not for the Kentucky School of Medicine nor for themselves individually, but for the medical schools of Louisville to which the human subject is as necessary as breath to life." Just weeks later the physicians of Louisville were at it again. They attempted to rob a grave at the State Asylum for the Insane in Anchorage, Kentucky, this time on behalf of the University of Louisville. "Yes, the party was sent by us," a senior school official said, "We must have bodies, and if the State won't give them to us we must steal them. The winter classes were large and used up so many subjects that there were none for the spring classes." He saw no need to apologize. "The Asylum Cemetery as been robbed for years," he said, "and I doubt if there is a corpse in it. I tell you we must have bodies. You cannot make doctors without them, and the public must understand it. If we can't get them any other way we will arm the students with Winchester rifles and send them to protect the body-snatchers on their raids."
Chap: Final Preparations pg 220: Burnham: "Each of you knows the name and genius of him who stands first in the heart and confidence of American artists, the creator of your own and many other city parks. He it is who has been our best advisor and our constant mentor. In the highest sense he is the planner of the Exposition, Frederick Law Olmsted....An artist, he paints with lakes and wooded slopes, with lawns and banks and forest-covered hills; with mountain sides and ocean views. ..."
Chapter Night Is the Magician pg 247 about sights at the Chicago fair:
* first moving pictures on Edison's Kinetoscope
* watched, stunned, as lightning chattered from Nikola Tesla's body
* first zipper
* first-ever all-electric kitchen (incl automatic dishwasher)
* box purporting to contain everything a cook would need to make pancakes (under brand name Aunt Jemima's)
* sampled new, oddly flavored gum called Juicy Fruit, and caramel-coated popcorn called Cracker Jack.
* new cereal, Shredded Wheat, seemed unlikely to succeed -- "shredded doormat" some called it
* a new beer did well, winning the exposition's top beer award. Forever afterword it's brewer called it Pabst Blue Ribbon
* the vertical file, created by Melvil Dewey, inventor of the Dewey Decimal System.
* novelties: locomotive made of spooled silk, suspension bridge built of Kirk's Soap; giant map of US made of pickles; full-scale knight on horseback sculpted of prunes, and the Avery Salt Mines of Louisiana displayed a copy of the Statue of Liberty carved from a block of salt. Visitors dubbed it "Lot's Wife."”
“A compelling read, and a wonderful view of Chicago at the turn of the century.”Bonnie W wrote this review Friday, October 11, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Excellent! A must read.”Monica DeLuna wrote this review Thursday, October 10, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I had to slog my way through this book. The reason that the world fair in Chicago is not well-known in history, is because it was a brief splash of fancy that did not, as Larson tries to convince us, have much of a lasting impact on our country or the world. The fair fortuitously coincided with a transitional time in the United States, but was not instrumental in that transition. AC electricity and light bulbs, thought prominently displayed at the fair, were inevitable regardless of the exhibition. And although the Ferris Wheel truly was a product of the fair, that invention hardly elevates the event to a world-changing affair. And by Larson's own admission, the architecture of the fair was, far from being inspirational, largely viewed as having retarded the creative advancement of this art.
The alternating story of a serial killer was completely incongruous with the story of the fair. It did nothing to serve as a contrasting compliment to the White City, as it seems Larson was hoping to use this macabre tale. It was interesting in own right, but was more distracting than enhancing in opinion.
Sometimes a book will remain on my bedside for a long time - with something unknown preventing me from starting it. Some of my favorite books have been these that eventually far exceed my expectations. "Devil in the white City" lived down to my expectations. Like the fair it describes, it is more hype than substance and will fade into obscurity in my mind as the fair has done in our collective consciousness.”
“This book is really, really great!!!!! Someone loaned it to me, so i read the first chapter so I could say I read some of it...got sucked in and absolutely love it!!! I've read it several times and listened to the audiobook several times. My wife has to tell me to stop talking about the 1893 World's Fair all the time!!!”steve wrote this review Saturday, September 28, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I really enjoyed reading this book and it was a great way to read up on the Exhibition (something I probably wouldn't be likely to do on its own). The author does lay it on thick at times with the dramatics, but it does match the atmosphere he's aiming for. I thought there would be more connection between the two subjects and was disappointed that it wasn't as closely tied together. I liked how he told us what happened to everyone in the epilogue and I learned a lot about cultural revolutions that were all started during this time period. ”a stor(e)y wrote this review Wednesday, September 25, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No