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The Devil in the White City

Erik Larson writes a captivating book of two parallel stories that occurred in the months preceding the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. "The Devil" side of the story recounts the activities of serial killer H.H. Holmes, who builds a hotel near the site of the World's Fair and lures unsuspecting visitors to take residence before ending their lives in the building's gas chamber. The "White City" portion of the story, and the part most interesting for architects, covers famed architect Daniel Burnham's journey as the leader of construction for an enormous fairground - one that was built in the all-white Classical Revival style. The shear size of the project is incredible and this one man was responsible for pulling a number of great architecture egos together to accomplish an impossible civic project.

Larson spent thousands of hours researching the two stories, which are completely true. However, he engages the reader in the two tales skillfully and in such a fashion that you may think it is a work of fiction. The book alternates from The Devil's story to the architect's White City story, which leaves cliffhangers at every pass. This is one of those amazing books that is entertaining and historical at the same time.

We highly recommend Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City to anyone, especially architects with an interest in the stories of history's great architects.

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