Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Devil in the White City, Part I

I grew up in the Chicago area--Joliet, Ill. to be exact--and I learned that many innovations were introduced at the Columbian Exposition, which commemorated Christopher Columbus' discovery of America 400 years earlier. Erik Larson's "The Devil in the White City" casts a perspective on the Exposition that I never realized existed.
Larson starts with the Exposition Universelle of 1889 in Paris, which set the wheels in motion for the United States to top that World's Fair. Architect Daniel Burnham, who is credited with not only the design of Chicago but for preserving land throughout the Chicago area to be used for recreation--hiking, picnicking and other family activities, is at the core of this book as is his partner, John Wellborn Root. Another figure, Herman Mudgett aka Dr. H.H. Holmes, is a person whose name I never heard before. He's the antagonist in juxtaposition to Burnham, Root, et.al., the heroes in the story.
The book reads like a novel, but it's all true, and what truth Larson provides!
Be assured that Holmes, who copied his name presumably from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's detective, Sherlock Holmes, is not in search of justice for the downtrodden or misunderstood.
He may be classified as a psychopath, but he is likable. He charms women and they fall under his spell. As I continue my journey through this book, I hope to uncover the reason for his behavior and how he managed to ignore the value of life.

No comments:

Post a Comment