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The Devil in the White City

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Country  United States
Publication date  2003
ISBN  0-609-60844-4
Author  Erik Larson
Publisher  Crown Publishing Group

Language  English
Pages  447
Originally published  11 February 2003
Page count  447
Genres  History, True crime
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Media type  Print (hardcover and paperback)
Awards  Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime
Similar  Erik Larson books, Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime winners, True crime books

The true story behind the devil in the white city 2003

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America (Crown Publishers, ISBN 0-609-60844-4) is a 2003 non-fiction book by Erik Larson presented in a novelistic style. The book is based on real characters and events. Leonardo DiCaprio purchased the film rights in 2010.


Exploring the devil in the white city the 1893 chicago world s fair


The book is set in Chicago in 1893, intertwining the true tales of Daniel H. Burnham, the architect behind the 1893 World's Fair, and Dr. H. H. Holmes, the serial killer who lured his victims to their deaths in his elaborately constructed "Murder Castle."

Burnham and the architects

  • Daniel Burnham: the chief architect behind the World's Columbian Exposition (also known as the Chicago World's Fair)
  • John Root: Burnham's partner
  • Charles B. Atwood: Burnham's head of design after Root's death
  • George Washington Gale Ferris Jr.: inventor of the Ferris wheel
  • Frank Millet
  • Louis Sullivan
  • Richard Morris Hunt
  • Charles McKim
  • Frederick Law Olmsted (designer of New York City's Central Park): landscape architect in charge of the World's Fair landscape.
  • George B. Post
  • Sophia Hayden Bennett
  • Holmes and associates

  • Herman Webster Mudgett (aka Dr. H. H. Holmes): a serial killer who used the fair to lure his victims to their deaths. Dr. Holmes had built his "World's Fair Hotel" complete with a gas chamber, dissection table, and a crematorium to dispose of the bodies. Holmes would have the skeletons of his victims removed and sell them for medical and scientific study.
  • Clara A. Lovering: Holmes's first wife
  • Myrta Z. Belknap: Holmes's second wife
  • Lucy Holmes: Holmes's daughter with Myrta
  • Georgiana Yoke: Holmes's third wife
  • Julia Smythe: employee and lover of Holmes; wife of Ned Connor
  • Ned Connor: employee of Holmes; husband of Julia Smythe
  • Emeline Cigrand: fiancĂ©e (and murder victim) of Holmes
  • Benjamin Pietzel: business associate (and murder victim) of Holmes
  • Carrie Pietzel: wife of Benjamin Pietzel
  • Howard, Nellie and Alice Pietzel: son and two daughters(respectively) of Benjamin and Carrie Pietzel.
  • Frank Geyer: detective in charge of finding Pietzel's children after Holmes was jailed for fraud
  • Thomas W. Barlow: assistant district attorney who prosecuted Holmes
  • Other figures

  • Mayor Carter Harrison, Sr.: Mayor of Chicago who was assassinated on the last day of the fair.
  • Patrick Prendergast: assassin who killed Mayor Harrison under the delusional belief that he had helped Harrison win re-election.
  • Film adaptation

    Leonardo DiCaprio purchased the film rights to the book in 2010; the movie is to be produced by Paramount Pictures, Stacey Sher and Michael Shamberg's Double Feature Films, and DiCaprio's own production company Appian Way Productions. Writer Graham Moore was originally hired to adapt the book into a screenplay, but it was later reported that Billy Ray would be writing the script. Martin Scorsese will direct.


  • 2003 New York Times best seller (nonfiction)
  • 2003 International Horror Guild Award (Nonfiction)
  • 2003 San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year
  • 2003 National Book Award (Nonfiction), finalist
  • 2003 CWA Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction, shortlist
  • 2003 Great Lakes Book Award (Nonfiction), finalist
  • 2004 Washington State Book Award
  • 2004 Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award
  • 2004 Edgar Award (Best Fact Crime), winner
  • 2004 Book Sense Book of the Year Honor Book, winner
  • 2009 ALA Outstanding Books for the College Bound (History & Cultures)
  • References

    The Devil in the White City Wikipedia