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The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson
In The Devil in the White City, Erik Larson (author of Isaac's Storm) tells the story of two men to illustrate life in America just before the turn of the 20th century. Architect Daniel Hudson Burnham was the driving force behind the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago which astounded the world with its architecture and engineering marvels. H. H. Holmes was America's first serial killer, and he opened the World's Fair Hotel just west of the fair, complete with airtight seals on the rooms, gas jets attached to no appliances, a dissection table and a specially designed, body-sized oven in the basement. He preyed on young women who came to Chicago looking for work at the fair. The juxtaposition of the heights of human achievement and the depths of human evil as the modern age was born have created a book the Denver Post calls "an unqualified success."