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The Devil in the White City
by Erik Larson | History
Registered by moondawgger of Carlsbad, California USA on 10/5/2005
Average 9 star rating by BookCrossing Members 

status (set by fen18): to be read

10 journalers for this copy...

Journal Entry 1 by moondawgger from Carlsbad, California USA on Wednesday, October 05, 2005

9 out of 10

From the back cover of the book: Erik Larson's spellbinding bestseller intertwines the true tale of two men -- the brilliant architect behind the legendary 1893 Chicago World's Fair -- and the cunning serial killer who used the fair to lure his victims to their death.

My two cents ...

This is easily one of the best books I've read this year ... and everyone I know who has read it pretty much feels the same way.

Two riveting, inextricably-linked parallel story lines -- involving the passionate, talented architect and a handsome young doctor and his house of horrors -- driving toward the same point on the horizon, the opening of the greatest world's fair in history.

And you'll be amused and amazed to discover all the iconic things that have become big parts of our culture that came out of this fair. Erik Larson drops them on you when you're least expecting them in unexpecting ways. Very cool.

The only drawback ... and this is a minor quibble ... the book really cries out for a section of pages with photos of the Fair.

Otherwise ... absolutely unputdownable. 

Journal Entry 2 by moondawgger from Carlsbad, California USA on Tuesday, November 08, 2005

This book has not been rated.

The Devil in the White City Bookray

dicentragirl (asked to be skipped)
bobbarama <-------- Home safe and sound (8/10)


Erik Larson interview!

*** Spoiler warning: Don't read anything beyond the interview if you haven't read the book yet. But plan on coming back to this link when you are done, because there's some really wonderful stuff down the left side of the page to click on!

Authentic 1893 Chicago World's Fair admission tickets!

Photo tour of the fair's architectural masterpieces!

Erik Larson answers three questions in this quick interview, including the question of whether there's a movie in the works. (There's nothing in here that will spoil the book if you haven't read it yet.)

Official 1893 Chicago World's Fair posters!

Journal Entry 3 by moondawgger at Post Office, 2772 Roosevelt St. in Carlsbad, California USA on Saturday, November 12, 2005

This book has not been rated.

Released 12 yrs ago (11/12/2005 UTC) at Post Office, 2772 Roosevelt St. in Carlsbad, California USA



I mailed this book to librarymousie this morning. My first bookray is under way! Sweet! 

Journal Entry 4 by librarymousie from Portsmouth, New Hampshire USA on Monday, November 14, 2005

This book has not been rated.

Received in today's mail. Thanks, bobbarama, for including me in this ray! 

Journal Entry 5 by librarymousie from Portsmouth, New Hampshire USA on Saturday, November 26, 2005

This book has not been rated.

Wow. What an absolutely fascinating book! I was amazed at all the things I didn't know about the 1893 World's Fair--and like bobbarama, was intrigued by all the little pieces of everyday American life that came to be about this time. I also really enjoyed the menus that sporadically appeared [how did anyone live past the age of 30 eating like that?], as well as the general descriptions of life in the Gilded Age. But those are all just details.

In and of itself, the story is fascinating. It's really one of drive--what drives men to greatness in their respective fields, beit architecture or serial killing. Initially, I was a little bit sceptical--while I do like a good crime read, I tend not to care too much about architecture--but the story of the 1893 Columbian Exposition is so much more than the buildings that housed it. Again, I have to agree with bobbarama and say this is definitely one of the finest books I've read this year (so fine that it kept me company during a bout of insomnia last night and I finished half of the foolish thing in one sitting!). I'm off to e-mail the next lucky reader and this will hopefully continue it's journey next week. Thanks so much for sharing this with me! 

Journal Entry 6 by librarymousie from Portsmouth, New Hampshire USA on Monday, November 28, 2005

This book has not been rated.

Sent today to twinkpuddin via USPS Priority Mail. 

Journal Entry 7 by twinkpuddin from Seattle, Washington USA on Saturday, December 03, 2005

This book has not been rated.

Received this past Wednesday and started reading on Thursday. Thanks librarymousie! 

Journal Entry 8 by twinkpuddin from Seattle, Washington USA on Monday, January 02, 2006

9 out of 10

I finished this over my holiday vacation. A great read! I completely agree how amazing it was to see all the things we take for granted now that came out of the fair. For some reason I was expecting a more gruesome description of the murders than was actually included. Although, that's fine with me, since I have a weak stomach when it comes to that type of thing. The last thing that drew me in was also, as librarymousie mentioned, the drive. It really made me wish I had some great undertaking that I was after right now.

Have PM'd Flakes and will send along when I get an address.

Thanks so much to bobbarama for sharing and all the great links! 

Journal Entry 9 by twinkpuddin from Seattle, Washington USA on Thursday, January 05, 2006

This book has not been rated.

Dropped in the mail today! Enjoy! 

Journal Entry 10 by Flakes from Bloomington, Illinois USA on Monday, January 30, 2006

This book has not been rated.

Woohoo! It finally turned up!:) You were right, bobbarama, if I'd bought this one on Saturday I'd have been upset!

Thank, also for the bookmark. I'll start this one in the next couple of days and then send it on its way. 

Journal Entry 11 by Flakes from Bloomington, Illinois USA on Sunday, February 05, 2006

This book has not been rated.

I completely agree with bobbarama, that this book was "unputdownable". I love to read history, and every once an a while I stumble upon a book that highlights a part of history I had never even been aware of!

I especially enjoyed the author's "historical timestamps" throughout the book. Very interesting to have a frame of reference as to what else was going on in the world during this time period (Lizzie Borden, death of Sitting Bull, etc.).

The name dropping in this book was also wonderful! To read the names of the famous (and soon to be famous) fair visitors was amazing.

Thanks so much for the opportunity to read this book. I enjoyed it very much!

Looking forward to reading Larson's other book, Isaac's Storm.

I'll PM dicentragirl now, and send it out to her as soon as I receive an address. 

Journal Entry 12 by Flakes from Bloomington, Illinois USA on Thursday, February 09, 2006

This book has not been rated.

PM'd dicentragirl, but she asked to be skipped. Mailed the book out this morning to oldreader by priority mail. #0305 2710 0000 5887 7940.


Journal Entry 13 by oldreader from Citrus Heights, California USA on Saturday, February 11, 2006

This book has not been rated.

just arrived,have 2 in front of this but am a fast reader... 

Journal Entry 14 by oldreader from Citrus Heights, California USA on Monday, February 27, 2006

8 out of 10

Very interesting facts on fair thatI did not know.The evil Doctor was worse than just evil.Wonder if he could have gotten away with some of these things in a more recent time with building inspectors etc.Did not know Buffalo Bill got his start there or that shredded wheat was a worlds fair food.Thanks for sharing. 

Journal Entry 15 by oldreader at US Post in Book Ring, A Bookring -- Controlled Releases on Saturday, March 04, 2006

This book has not been rated.

Released 12 yrs ago (3/3/2006 UTC) at US Post in Book Ring, A Bookring -- Controlled Releases



on its way to next reader 

Journal Entry 16 by Brendalc57 from Sacramento, California USA on Saturday, March 25, 2006

This book has not been rated.

Received the book two weeks ago and truly embarrased I did not journal that I received sorry Bobbarama...I am almost done with it, totally hooked, had one book before it so started it last week. I will be sending it to you probably sometime next week as I think I may finish it up by the end of the weekend. Again my apologies. 

Journal Entry 17 by Brendalc57 from Sacramento, California USA on Monday, March 27, 2006

9 out of 10

Has to be one of the best books I have read so far this year. So much history in this one book. I am fascinated with how much these men who put this fair together would journal about their daily affairs and this is how we have so much information now on how things happened.

So many famous names, connected to famous inventions in the story...just loved that.

And of course there is the devilish part of it all. The unsolved murders. I just had to follow every step of Holmes and his super wicked evil ways of getting rid of people...this was just so creepy to read and yet you want to read some more.

A book one cannot put down, unfortunately one has to because life goes on and one cannot live by reading alone. Thank you so much Bobbarama for making this bookring possible and for that great bookmark...nice touch. Now I need your addy to send it to you. This may make my favorite book of the year...lets wait and see what else comes in the following months. Brendalc57 

Journal Entry 18 by moondawgger from Carlsbad, California USA on Wednesday, April 05, 2006

This book has not been rated.

Woo hoo! My first bookring has returned! Pretty exciting. I'm turning this into a bookray now and sending it on to my good friend aine-eireann in Canada. I'll be sending it Saturday morning.

Thanks for playing, everyone ... and, aine-eireann, I hope you enjoy the book as much as we did.

Take care everyone. 

Journal Entry 19 by aine-eireann from Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada on Monday, April 24, 2006

This book has not been rated.

I received this book April 24/06 as a /RABCK/Bookray from bobbarama. From the many reviews, it looks to be a most interesting read. Thanks so much's much appreciated. What's a real plus here is to know that this book has travelled to many areas in the US, from coast to coast, and now here I have it on the east coast of Canada. Many readers' hands have turned the pages and enjoyed a thrilling read, which will not be lost on me as I turn them as well. 

Journal Entry 20 by aine-eireann from Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada on Saturday, May 20, 2006

10 out of 10

This was a powerful book, expertly crafted. I offer this quote: "Beneath the gore and smoke and loam, this book is about the evanescence of life, and why some men choose to fill their brief allotment of time engaging the impossible, others in the manufacture of sorrow. In the end, it is a story of the inelectable conflict between good and evil, daylight and darkness, the White City and the Black."
I liked the way Larson arranged the chapters which alternated between: an impossible dream that became a reality,how one man's vision took him through hell and back in order to fufill the dream of bringing the greatest World Fair ever to the city of Chicago, and a devil who purposefully created his own hell for the poor unfortunates that came into his space, such unfortunates not given the chance to return from that dark place.
I appreciated the amazing historical details the author offers, while also giving the reader a background story that compels one to keep turning the pages. Excellent read.
At present I'm putting together a bookray, which will end up in Bobbarama's hands again. He sent me a copy he had as a RABCK, which unfortunately got lost in the mail. He very kindly sent me this one when it was returned to him through the bookring. It's a book I wouldn't have read, had it not been for his kindness. So, I want this copy to be returned to him eventually. Thanks Bob. 

Journal Entry 21 by aine-eireann from Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada on Sunday, May 21, 2006

This book has not been rated.


*Thursday5 Ohio - mailed May 24/06
*jessibud Ontario
*Bobbarama California 

Journal Entry 22 by Thursday5 from Columbus, Ohio USA on Friday, June 02, 2006

This book has not been rated.

The book came in the mail today. Thanks aine-eireann. It is always so exciting to find a Bookcrossing package in the mailbox. I will start it as soon as I finish the book I am reading now. I noticed that the book was registered on an interesting date: 10-05-05 This is an interesting combination of numbers for those of us who enjoy the aesthetics of is also my birthday. 

Journal Entry 23 by Thursday5 from Columbus, Ohio USA on Saturday, June 17, 2006

This book has not been rated.

I always like to learn something new from books that I read and I certainly learned new things from this book about the Chicago World's Fair. I had no idea so many new inventions came from this World's Fair. I find it interesting that this project was undertaken for civic pride yet yield so many new inventions, that then have other applications-this was also true of the Apollo space project which was also undertaken for national pride. I thoroughly enjoyed the World's Fair plot line and appreciated getting a feel for the zeitgeist of that era. I was impressed with the thorough research on the fairt hat was done by the author.

I was uncomfortable reading the serial killer plot line-I found it gruesome as I tend to be what my mother always called "tender hearted"-so I did not finish the book.

I'll end on a positive note and say that I would have liked to have seen the Fair at night with all the lights.
Thank you Bobbarama for the historical info. on the fair that you put in the journal.

I'll add a bookmark with a picture of the world's fair and send the book on to jessibud in Ontario. 

Journal Entry 24 by Thursday5 from Columbus, Ohio USA on Monday, June 19, 2006

This book has not been rated.

When I mailed the book on, I enclosed theme bookmarks I made especially for this book-one for Jessibud and one for bobbarama. Enjoy! 

Journal Entry 25 by jessibud from Toronto, Ontario Canada on Tuesday, June 27, 2006

This book has not been rated.

The book arrived yesterday. Thanks so much, all of you. It is in large part because of the wonderful reviews you've all given to this book in your journal entries that I wanted to read it and I am really looking forward to it.

An odd bit of serendipity: just today, I stopped at the bookstore on my way home and saw, on the discount table, another book called "The White City", about this same Chicago World's Fair. It was written by Alec Michod. There are somewhat mixed reviews of it on the amazon listing but one thing that does seem consistent is that Larson's book is the number one choice to read on this subject.

I am relieved that you are the only one left after me, bobbarama, as I am a bit bogged down at the moment with bookring books. I have only 2 days left of school, though, and after that, I will have the luxury of time to catch up! You have no idea how much I am looking forward to that! ;-)

You are going to love the bookmark that Thursday5 included for us!


Journal Entry 26 by jessibud from Toronto, Ontario Canada on Wednesday, July 26, 2006

10 out of 10

What a book! I'd only be repetitious here if I gushed about what a marvelous writer Larson is, and what a fascinating story this was. But it is all true. (I agree with Bobbarama, though, that I really missed a section of photos!)

I love historical novels and while this is entirely a work of non-fiction, it reads like a novel, smooth-flowing and gripping. Larson has the gift of making the past, present; it was almost like watching a time-lapse photography film. In my mind's eye, I could see the buildings start, stop, fall, and grow again, like a seed pushing its way out of its seed case and out of the ground, to wobble slowly toward the sun and bloom into a spectacular flower at the end.

I want so badly to mention here, by name, all the *name-dropping* Larson threw in, all the astonishing items and events that originated from this fair. Since no one is after me in this bookring, it is tempting, as I won't be spoiling it for anyone, but I will resist. I just have to say, though, that I was charmed by Larson's style of ending some paragraphs with unexpected, pithy one-liners, leaving the reader to almost do a double-take: Wait a minute! Really?!!! Sometimes, he wasn't even explicit about his details, and the truth about what he was writing just *dawned* on you slowly. Ok, I have to give just one example:

page 285: "No one saw Twain [Mark Twain]. He came to Chicago to see the fair but got sick and spent eleven days in his hotel room, then left without ever seeing the White City.
Of all people."

Like that. ;-)

And here is something that really took me by surprise: the Toronto connection!! Maybe I am just somewhat obsessive, maybe I'm just a geek. Being on vacation right now and having the time, helps, certainly, but I am heading downtown to the Reference Library later today to look at the newspaper archive room. I want to find the newspapers of the days, in 1895, when Toronto became a major player in this drama. As I read that section of the book, I ran out to my car to get my street guide. St. Vincent Street no longer exists but there is a Humphrey Funeral Home here in the city and I have to wonder if it is a descendent of the BD Humphrey, the undertaker in the story.....

I have to say, as well, that though the term was never actually used, it didn't escape my notice that the *gas chamber* Holmes built in his hotel was eerily foreshadowing of darker days to come, in World War II.

One last note. Larson is a gifted writer and storyteller. He is devoted to his craft and meticulous in his homework. He also doesn't take himself too seriously. I particularly loved the following 2 lines, from his Acknowledgments page, at the very end of the book:

"My three daughters showed me what really matters. My dog showed me that nothing matters but dinner."

Good to the last drop, ;-).

Thanks, Bobbarama, for allowing me to discover this book. As soon as I get your addy, it will be on its way home 

Journal Entry 27 by jessibud from Toronto, Ontario Canada on Saturday, August 05, 2006

This book has not been rated.

So, it's taken me a bit longer to make it down to the Toronto Reference Library than I thought it would. But I knew I'd get there. As mentioned in my last journal entry after finishing the book last week, I was not only gripped by Larson's story, but was stunned and quite intrigued by the Toronto connection. It's one thing to read non-fiction and know that the events really happened. It's quite another to be able to actually visit and stand on the very piece of ground these people did, so many years ago. Living history, indeed.

One of Toronto's current daily newspapers, The Toronto Star, has been around for a very long time. Back in the late 1800s, it was called The Toronto Evening Star. The only place I can view all its archive is at the reference library so, yesterday, off I went.

It's fun and it's quaint to read old newspapers, to see ads such as this one, for a hat sale:
"$2 Hats for $1.25 and so on up and down the line"

Or: "Camp Bed With Wire Woven Mattress: 95c"

And how about this weather forecast: "Coming Weather - FAIR, not much change in temperature". (pretty scientific, eh?)

I suppose we'd like to think that we've evolved and grown more sophisticated as a species, over the years. But the more things change, as they say, the more things stay the same. And when a particularly shocking and gruesome story hits the headlines, the human appetite for sensationalism hasn't really changed much at all since 1895, I'm afraid.

As far as I know, there were no publication bans on details, at that time. And my mouth just dropped open when I read, right there on page one of the July 17, 1895 afternoon edition, "The Coroner's Jury" announced; the full names and home addresses of the 15 men chosen as the jury, took up an entire paragraph, with heading!! (it didn't escape my notice that there was not a single woman among them; not surprising, for the day, I suppose)

And while they weren't called *paparazzi* (sorry if I've spelled that wrong) and had no cameras, the morbid curiosity of the common rubbernecker was clearly alive and well in 1895:

"July 19, 1895 - Yesterday evening, a tall stately woman, bowed with care and sorrow, stepped from the Chicago Express at the Union Station into the midst of a crowd of jostling curious men and women. It was Mrs. Pietzel.
"The news of her arrival had spread through the city, and she had to march with the detectives to her carriage, under the stare of perhaps five hundred people. Mrs. Pietzel has aged terribly, and has all the appearance of a broken down woman."

Ya think? Sheesh.

And I suppose that editorial commentaries, sarcastic or otherwise, are not just a product of our own (outspoken) times. From a sidebar editorial of July 22, 1895:

"Holmes is certainly a fiend, but that is no reason why the Chicago police should seek to fasten upon him every crime committed in that city"

"Since this man Holmes' record has been published, the remaining inhabitants on earth consider themselves fortunate in being alive."


Anyhow, I just wanted to share that with all the previous readers of this wonderful book. I could have sat there for hours, reading page after page but after about an hour or so, it got a bit tedious having to magnify each and every page numerous times in order to read the articles onscreen. I thank goodness for the miracle of computers and the technology that even allows me to do this at all, but it can be a bit hard on the eyes!

Journal Entry 28 by moondawgger from Carlsbad, California USA on Friday, August 11, 2006

This book has not been rated.

This book has returned safe and sound. I'm glad everyone enjoyed it. A special thanks to my good friend aine-eireann for finding several more people interested in reading the book before it found its way back home! You all rock! 

Journal Entry 29 by fen18 from Carlsbad, California USA on Friday, September 14, 2007

This book has not been rated.

Some guy gave me the book. I was hesitant at first, because my mother always told me never to take literature from strangers, but then I remembered that was candy.


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