Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Devil in the White City

I highly recommend this book. I’m reading this for a book club. The characters were real people. The two main characters are architect Daniel Burnham and serial killer Dr. H. H. Holmes. Before reading this book I didn’t know much about the 1893 World’s Fair or Chicago. I had heard about it. This book does a fantastic job explaining how the fair became a possiblility. I love the quote by Daniel Burnham, "Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood." Now I’m wanting to visit the Second City and find out more about architects Burnham and Olmstead. Olmstead is responsible for Central Park in New York City and for the grounds at Biltmore in Ashville, North Carolina. His philosophy was to look at the future with landscape architecture and not just make it look pretty for today. The author Erik Lawson does a great job with research and incorporating pieces of historical documentation into this book. He also wrote a book about the 1900 Galveston Hurricane called Issac's Storm. Being Disaster Chick that only seems to be appropriate reading.
I found The Devil in the White City hard to put down. Approximately every other chapter covered Burnham then Holmes. It kept the story moving and made me want to find out what happened next. I'm usually not big on reading and watching crime and forensic based media, but there were times I was more interested in the Holmes storyline than in the Burnham storyline. I find it hard to believe how someone could be like Holmes. Also because of designing the World's Fair and the demands he ended up being a better architect than if this opportunity had never happened.

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