The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson

In 1893 Chicago hosted a World’s Fair designed to outshine the fair that Paris held a few years earlier.  The grounds were built from scratch by some of the most famous architects of the time.  Many world-changing inventions debuted there.  But at the same time just down the road, America’s first serial killer was taking advantage of the tourism the fair produced to kill many young women. 

I was amazed at how open H.H. Holmes was in his disregard for all the laws that govern people.  He would buy things on credit with no intention of ever paying for them and then charm his creditors into giving him more money.  He built a house designed mainly for killing with secret gas chambers and ovens but fired workers so fast no one caught on to the main design.

The story of the Fair was interesting too.  For such a huge production it is surprising that we don’t hear more about it today.  It was incredible what they were able to build in 2 years.