Author: Erik Larson
Review: Jorge Fernandez, Vice President for Global Commerce, Metro Atlanta Chamber
The tagline for this nonfiction page-turner on Chicago’s world’s fair in 1893 promises “murder, magic and madness,” but I’d also add “architectural wonder and curiosity.”
I was captivated by the plot, which expertly juxtaposes two parallel true stories. One tracks the first “electrified” world’s fair, which was also the first time the world glimpsed a Ferris wheel. Larson describes the architects behind the “glimmering white city,” an urban marvel of pristine buildings that served as the fair grounds.
At the same time, he tells the tale of a Chicago serial killer who uses one of the White City’s venues to lure fair-goers to their deaths.
I was amazed by how the author kept both story lines thrusting forward simultaneously. I also appreciated his meticulous research on how this global feat came about. He expertly captures the political chess match big architectural firms played with local officials while bidding for the construction of the edifices that wowed so many at the time. He also brings to life the gruesome details of one of our nation’s first serial killers. I highly recommend this historical thriller.