Some of my best friends recommended this book to me last year. Patience paid off, and my turn to check it out from the library finally arrived (quite a long wait list for this one.) I was rewarded for my patience.
The format of the book is much like this book; alternating between the story of the construction of Chicago's 1893 World's Fair and the story of Herman Webster Mudgett, more famously know by his alias H.H. Holmes - America's first serial killer on record (and maybe it's worst still today.)
The story is basically a compilation of facts. Everything told is substantiated in the 50+ page bibliography at the conclusion of the book. Please don't dismiss the book because it is about a serial killer. Again, it's a compilation of facts. Given there are quite a few very disturbing facts, but as it's based on today's available information, it's not fully descriptive of the actual events. There are stated assumptions and guesses, but it's not like reading a novel full of intimate details. And if it is too much for you, I offer the same advice as I did if you were not a football fan and wanted to enjoy The Blind Side: "Just know that when you've had enough talk about [the serial killer], just skip to the next chapter [or section discussing the fair]."
I love learning, I love it. And I learned so much about a city I've yet to visit, Chicago - still on my list of places to see, and now I want to see it even more. I'm so impressed that the World's Fair even happened with all the struggles they endured. I wish I had been there, not to be a victim of Holmes' madness, but to see the incredible World's Fair, the White City on Jackson Island, the first Ferris Wheel. I can only imagine people dressing to the nines as they attend the opening ceremonies, the grand ball (you know today, people would show up in jeans and a t-shirt). I can only imagine the amazingness of the displays, the yumminess of the food, the beauteousness of the grounds.
To quote one review of the book: Here, then, is your ticket to the greatest fair in history—a place where incredible dreams came to life alongside darkest nightmares.
I'm so glad my friends recommended this book. And I in return, recommend it now to you.