The Devil in the White City

DWCityI would be lying if I said that I had heard of this book for years now and kept meaning to read it. Only reason I knew of it was from the news about Leonardo Dicaprio and Martin Scorsese looking to star and direct. I kept hearing about how this book would be difficult to adapt, so I figured I might as well download it and give it a listen.

I am definitely glad I did. I did not realize this was a nonfiction work. I mean, I knew it was based on real people, but I figured that it was probably historical fiction. But nope, this book was basically taken from original documents from the time period and constructed into a narrative.

For those that do not know, the book is two stories. The first is the story of Daniel Burnham and his construction of the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. It is fascinating to read about the time period and just how amazing these people were when given a task. Imagine today trying to complete something this momentous in such a short period. I love this time period, this time of change. Think about it for a second, the Wounded Knee Massacre happened in 1890, which was about the time when this story begins. Seriously, we were attempting to showcase how amazing America was at the same we were still fighting against Native Americans. The 20th century was rolling it, but the 19th did not want to go away quietly.

The second part of the book is about Dr. H.H. Holmes, a serial killer who preys upon the young women who travel to Chicago for the fair. He had a hotel built that was called his Murder Castle (and was featured on an episode of Supernatural). This is the birth of a new kind of killer, unlike anything people had seen in this country.

I am curious to see how they would make this into a movie. Holmes and Burnham never have an interaction. I would imagine that the movie will focus more on Holmes (and I am betting that is who Dicaprio is looking to play) and the cop who eventually figured it out and brought him down. The backdrop will be the city and the fair, with maybe some passing references to Burnham. Unfortunately, that does not really do the story justice. I hope I am wrong and they come about this in a different way.

Anyways, I really enjoyed this book. It was cool to step out of my comfort zone of sci-fi/fantasy and read something different. I guess it does not hurt that it was a history book.