In 2003, Erik Larson wrote the novel “The Devil in the White City.” His writing and dedication to this novel not only takes the reader through murders, mysteries and suspense, but it also takes the reader back to the year 1893 when the Chicago World’s Fair made its grand appearance. In this novel Larson takes a historical view of the Fair, as well as a view that he knew would capture the minds of all audiences. Larson can be looked at as “…a historian with excessive interest in popular culture…While not overwhelming us with pop details, Larson offers unmistakably American epic lists of the Fair’s wares: …Aunt Jemima pancake mix, Juicy Fruit gum, Cracker Jack… and most spectacularly, Chicago’s answer to Paris, the Ferris Wheel” (1). Adding these things that people can relate to helps the reader to become more and more involved in the story.
Click on the pictures below for a quick link to the history of each item.
To keep the reader interested, Larson writes about the people who saw the wonders of the great fair. “Grover Cleveland opened the fair; its visitors included Thomas Edison, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Susan B. Anthony, Helen Keller, and Mark Twain… Larson is most entertaining in moments such as these, delivering a heavy dose of historical irony with a deft touch. Such mirthful dismay creates a subtly endearing link between the writer and his readership. We are learning from him of an event from the past while he flatters us by revealing that we share his historical knowledge of some of the individuals involved…” (2).
Some more! Click on the pictures below for a quick link to the history of each item.
Like the people who attended the Fair, the reader too feels as if they are inside the Fair with the concrete details and the vivid images. The first inventions are the things that people looked at in wonder and they are things that people today look at without a second thought. This website will help you to understand where the inventions came from and who the people behind the magic were.