Tuesday, May 5, 2015
Review of The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson (2003, Crown)
In The Devil and the White City Larson tells the stories of the two men and the events that consumed them both as a means to tell the wider story of the World Fair and Chicago’s development. It’s a strategy that works remarkably well, with both narratives full of drama, intrigue and suspense. Indeed, Larson manages to balance well the details of each man’s life with the wider context of the fair, the swirl of other actors, city politics and social landscape to provide an interesting and engaging historical account. This is to be admired, I think, because the book could have been a rather dull, dry, fact laden tale, whereas Larson understands the notion of popular history, writing almost in the style of a fictional account. If you’re visiting Chicago and you’re looking for an entertaining and informative read, then the book makes for a good travelling companion.