Book club - "The Devil in the White City" by Erik Larson

"The Devil in the White City" (non-fiction, 2003)

by Erik Larson


Author Erik Larson imbues the incredible events surrounding the 1893 Chicago World's Fair with such drama that readers may find themselves checking the book's categorization to be sure that 'The Devil in the White City' is not, in fact, a highly imaginative novel. Larson tells the stories of two men: Daniel H. Burnham, the architect responsible for the fair's construction, and H.H. Holmes, a serial killer masquerading as a charming doctor. Burnham's challenge was immense. In a short period of time, he was forced to overcome the death of his partner and numerous other obstacles to construct the famous "White City" around which the fair was built. His efforts to complete the project, and the fair's incredible success, are skillfully related along with entertaining appearances by such notables as Buffalo Bill Cody, Susan B. Anthony, and Thomas Edison. The activities of the sinister Dr. Holmes, who is believed to be responsible for scores of murders around the time of the fair, are equally remarkable. He devised and erected the World's Fair Hotel, complete with crematorium and gas chamber, near the fairgrounds and used the event as well as his own charismatic personality to lure victims. Combining the stories of an architect and a killer in one book, mostly in alternating chapters, seems like an odd choice but it works. The magical appeal and horrifying dark side of 19th-century Chicago are both revealed through Larson's skillful writing. (-


We are a small and friendly group. New participants are always welcome. There is no charge to attend this meetup. The only cost is whatever you choose to spend on drink and/or food. Please bring sufficient cash to pay your portion of the bill; coins are particularly helpful. Thank you.


Join or login to comment.

  • Renee M.

    Hi - just another attempt at finding out which book is being discussed next month?
    Thanks, Renee

    September 14, 2013

  • Renee M.

    Hi all - I messed up! I am so very sorry that I did not get to see you. I showed up early at Cafe Rouge but the manager said he had no bookings for you! As we had discussed some problems with the reconstruction of Victoria Station, I thought perhaps I had got the place wrong. I wandered around a bit, but then went home. This is really my fault. Why ever did I not take a few phone numbers from you? I must make sure to do this next time we meet.
    The book was good, even if a bit long. I am not too sure how the two bits fit together, except for the obvious links with the fair. I don't know Chicago very well, but I will pass the book on to my niece who lived there for several years. I did spend much of my time reading the book thinking about London's Olympic site. Who knows how that will evolve.
    Just in case I mess up again, could you remind me of next month's book and the site and time??
    Thanks to you all.

    September 7, 2013

  • Jacqueline

    Sorry all, there's been a last minute schedule snarl so I will not be attending today. See you at the next one!

    September 7, 2013

  • Kevin M.

    Sure, I'll do it. I can work up six or seven questions and we'll take it from there....?

    August 11, 2013

    • Kari

      That would be great. Thanks Kevin!

      August 11, 2013

  • Kari

    I am not able to make this meeting. Does anyone else want to take over leading the meeting? If not, then we will cancel and reschedule the discussion. Thanks,


    August 10, 2013

  • colleen

    Sorry, can't make this one and even had the book to read.

    July 31, 2013

  • Jacqueline

    Looking forward to meeting some of my fellow ex-pats and letting my book nerd side loose!

    June 30, 2013

6 went

People in this
Meetup are also in:

Imagine having a community behind you

Get started Learn more

We just grab a coffee and speak French. Some people have been coming every week for months... it creates a kind of warmth to the group.

Rafaël, started French Conversation Group

Sign up

Meetup members, Log in

By clicking "Sign up" or "Sign up using Facebook", you confirm that you accept our Terms of Service & Privacy Policy