Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by The Housework Can Wait and Never Too Fond of Books!
Noting that book blogging onften focuses on new releases, here’s how Throwback Thursday works:
- Pick a book released more than 5 years ago.
- Write up a short summary of the book (include the title, author, and cover art) and an explanation of why you love it.
- Link up your post at The Housework Can Wait or Never Too Fond of Books.
- Visit as many blogs as you can, reminisce about books you loved, and discover some “new” books for your TBR list!
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson
From my original post, 06/27/10:
As much as I liked Thunderstruck, I think I like The Devil in the White City more. History is much more interesting when it’s a cloth rather than a thread. On its own the World’s Columbian Exposition is an interesting thread. When seen in context with other events, it’s absolutely remarkable. At least when presented by Larson. If I were a history teacher I’d be very tempted to base my curriculum on his books. I also think David Milch and HBO should make this their next project.
Again, Larson juxtaposes two stories: the building and run of the World’s Columbian Exposition and the history of serial killer H.H. Holmes. As with Thunderstruck, the two stories don’t entirely mesh. They are each interesting, but Holmes’s story is a bit more of a tangent than a parallel. Holmes’s evil is meant to be a counterweight to the better humanity shown in the building of the world’s fair, but it’s not that simple. Within the realm of the Exposition alone, there are plenty of shades of gray. Holmes is another thread that modestly run through other events. Still, Larson ranks as one of the better writers I’m reading.
Why read it today? History is always more interesting when presented as a narrative rather than a list of dates and facts. In this case, The Devil in the White City is very much a narrative of Chicago’s history. Delving into the background of the World’s Fair and H.H. Holmes brings out the stories of the city itself and the culture of the people that inhabit it.