February 22, 2008

The Devil In The White City

The Devil in the White City
Erik Larson


(February 22, 2008)

In this very interesting approach to historical writing, Larson carefully weaves together the story of planning the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago with the discovery of one of the first serial murderers to come to light. The books is structured like a braided novel, but remains a work of history; feelings are sometimes attributed to individuals, to be sure, but all the dialogue is authentic.

Larson recognizes that architects and designers are especially useful link targets, because so many people impinge on their work. Around the characters of fair architect Daniel Burnham and landscape designer Frederick Law Olmstead, Larson can fluently link the lives of people who worked on the fair, visited it, talked about, schemed in its shadows, or remembered it later.