The Devil in the White City

What a story! The Chicago World’s Fair was an exercise in grandiosity, an effort to better the Paris fair which Mr. Eiffel made famous for his tower.  Chicago wanted its fair to be bigger, better, grander and to showcase Chicago as a premier city. These goals were accomplished. The Ferris wheel was the answer to the Eiffel Tower, and the architects and engineers responsible for designing the buidlings and developing Jackson Park made a lasting contribution to the design  of American cities.  But the monumental side details of the story also linger–all that steel, the tons of manure from all those horses, the thousands of workers unemployed once the fair was over. Then there is the story of the psychopathic Dr. Holmes who may be one of the worst mass murderers ever. Larson ingeniously links Holmes’ story to the same impulses behind the building of the fair in his exercise of power and grandiosity. But Dr. Holmes kept me awake. I had to read his chapters first and bury him so that I could enjoy the fair.