Erik Larson's National Book Award Finalist, Devil in the White City has been on my to-read list since it was published in 2003. It was my companion on a recent trip to San Francisco and distracted me on the long flights. Why did I wait so long to discover this book?
Subtitled: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America, Devil deals with the legendary 1893 Chicago World's Fair and the architect of that event, Daniel Burnham, contrasted with the cunning serial killer, H.H. Holmes, who used the fair to lure his victims.
This is the most engrossing and fascinating book I have read in a long time. I have not been able to stop talking about all the historical facts I learned that inform the way our world is today. For example, Chicago wanted to "out Eiffel Eiffel" (the Eiffel Tower was a feature of the previous World's Fair in Paris) and they did. A man named George Ferris stepped forward with an unproven design - a wheel that went up into the sky and could seat 2,000 people for a 20 minute ride.
The fair truly was a seminal event and the juxtaposition of the triumph of the fair with the sadness of the terrible surrounding murders makes for a memorable read.