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The Devil In The White City
 
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The Devil In The White City [Format Kindle]

Erik Larson
4.4 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (5 commentaires client)

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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. --John Moe

Extrait

The Black City

How easy it was to disappear:

A thousand trains a day entered or left Chicago. Many of these trains brought single young women who had never even seen a city but now hoped to make one of the biggest and toughest their home. Jane Addams, the urban reformer who founded Chicago's Hull House, wrote, "Never before in civilization have such numbers of young girls been suddenly released from the protection of the home and permitted to walk unattended upon the city streets and to work under alien roofs." The women sought work as typewriters, stenographers, seamstresses, and weavers. The men who hired them were for the most part moral citizens intent on efficiency and profit. But not always. On March 30, 1890, an officer of the First National Bank placed a warning in the help-wanted section of the Chicago Tribune, to inform female stenographers of "our growing conviction that no thoroughly honorable business-man who is this side of dotage ever advertises for a lady stenographer who is a blonde, is good-looking, is quite alone in the city, or will transmit her photograph. All such advertisements upon their face bear the marks of vulgarity, nor do we regard it safe for any lady to answer such unseemly utterances."

The women walked to work on streets that angled past bars, gambling houses, and bordellos. Vice thrived, with official indulgence. "The parlors and bedrooms in which honest folk lived were (as now) rather dull places," wrote Ben Hecht, late in his life, trying to explain this persistent trait of old Chicago. "It was pleasant, in a way, to know that outside their windows, the devil was still capering in a flare of brimstone." In an analogy that would prove all too apt, Max Weber likened the city to "a human being with his skin removed."

Anonymous death came early and often. Each of the thousand trains that entered and left the city did so at grade level. You could step from a curb and be killed by the Chicago Limited. Every day on average two people were destroyed at the city's rail crossings. Their injuries were grotesque. Pedestrians retrieved severed heads. There were other hazards. Streetcars fell from drawbridges. Horses bolted and dragged carriages into crowds. Fires took a dozen lives a day. In describing the fire dead, the term the newspapers most liked to use was "roasted." There was diphtheria, typhus, cholera, influenza. And there was murder. In the time of the fair the rate at which men and women killed each other rose sharply throughout the nation but especially in Chicago, where police found themselves without the manpower or expertise to manage the volume. In the first six months of 1892 the city experienced nearly eight hundred homicides. Four a day. Most were prosaic, arising from robbery, argument, or sexual jealousy. Men shot women, women shot men, and children shot each other by accident. But all this could be understood. Nothing like the Whitechapel killings had occurred. Jack the Ripper's five-murder spree in 1888 had defied explanation and captivated readers throughout America, who believed such a thing could not happen in their own hometowns.

But things were changing. Everywhere one looked the boundary between the moral and the wicked seemed to be degrading. Elizabeth Cady Stanton argued in favor of divorce. Clarence Darrow advocated free love. A young woman named Borden killed her parents.

And in Chicago a young handsome doctor stepped from a train, his surgical valise in hand. He entered a world of clamor, smoke, and steam, refulgent with the scents of murdered cattle and pigs. He found it to his liking.

The letters came later, from the Cigrands, Williamses, Smythes, and untold others, addressed to that strange gloomy castle at Sixty-third and Wallace, pleading for the whereabouts of daughters and daughters' children.

It was so easy to disappear, so easy to deny knowledge, so very easy in the smoke and din to mask that something dark had taken root.

This was Chicago, on the eve of the greatest fair in history.


From the Hardcover edition.

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7 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 meurtres en série sur fond d'Exposition Universelle 26 octobre 2003
Par Montana
Format:Relié
Erik Larson nous décrit le monde fascinant et magique d'avant, pendant et après le Chicago World's Fair - le Colombian Exposition qui fêtait les 400 ans de l'arrivée de Christophe Colombe en Amérique. Que de difficultés pour construire des bâtiments extraordinaires dans un temps limité, sur un sol qui supportait mal le poids sans sombrer dans le sable et l'eau du lac Michigan.
En même temps avec l'essor de l'expo, de plus en plus de monde arrivait à Chicago soit pour trouver du travail soit pour voir un spectacle grandiose qu'ils ne reverraient jamais. Beaucoup de jeunes femmes venaient chercher du travail dans cette ville, connue pour ses vices, mais beaucoup disparaissaient sans laisser de trace.
L'alternance entre la construction de l'Expo, avec toutes les inventions, notammament, la Grande Roue de M. Ferris qui apparaît pour la première fois; et la décadence, et la dépravité du Dr. Holmes qui font froid dans le dos; on imagine bien l'ambiance de l'époque. Déchirée entre la grandeur de Chicago, la volonté de réussir à tout prix et l'angoisse grandissante de savoir comment vivre l'après Expo...
On peut se demander si les nouvelles de Jack l'Eventreur peu de temps avant avaient une influence sur le Dr. Holmes (Sherlock a fait, lui aussi, son appartition à cette époque), il y avait également les meurtres abominables des parents de Lizzie Borden. Une nouvelle ère se présentait à l'horizon, qui risquait de nous traîner vers le bas.
Rempli d'anecdotes, et de noms connus qui font surface justement pendant l'expo qu'on ne soupçonnait guère ne fait que renforcer le lien historique.
Excellent.
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6 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Courtesy of Teens Read Too 21 août 2011
Format:Broché
In 1893, Chicago was gearing up for its shining moment on the international stage. The city had been selected to host the World's Fair, beating out New York and a number of other American contenders. A prominent local architect, Daniel Burnham, had taken the reins to organize and construct the massive project. He assembled a dream team of architects, landscapers, engineers, and other professionals to help pull the fair together. Certainly Chicago could outdo the Paris Fair, which had been a worldwide success years earlier.

Unfortunately for Burnham and his team, everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. Due to a lack of organization and bickering among the committees responsible for the fair, construction began far later than it should have. Partially completed buildings blew over and burned down. Union workers threatened strikes. One sideshow act showed up a year early, while another (which was believed to be made up of cannibals) killed the man sent to retrieve them and never showed up at all. And there was a monster on the loose. A man who used the chaos of Chicago at this time in history to conceal the murders of dozens of people - many of them young, single women. A man who constructed a building with stolen money, then used the building as a slaughterhouse to lure, kill, and dispose of his victims.

THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY is a terrific book. It is nonfiction, but it reads like a novel. The real-life details of this story seem almost too bizarre to be true, yet this is one example of the old saying that "truth is stranger than fiction." The author, Erik Larson, even includes a lengthy section at the back where he documents his facts and explains his suppositions.
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4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 très bien 18 avril 2012
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
livre de docu /fiction très intéressant. Le stress lié à la création de l'expo universelle de Chicago est palpable, les noms cités sont ceux des participants à cette formidable épopée. Chicago chauffée au charbon, éclairée au gaz, et construisant ses premiers gratte-ciel... impressionnant! Pour ceux qui veulent lire en anglais, pas de difficultés majeures dans le choix du vocabulaire ou la tournure des phrases. Bref, un régal
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2.0 étoiles sur 5 ouch 6 juin 2014
Par philippe
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
There are no dialogues in this book! For me it's too difficult to read. It was recommended to me, but i gave it away after a few chapters.
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 good source 24 mai 2014
Par aimée m
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
satisfied on all counts - fast early delivery - this book arrived in perfect shape do order from this seller
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