Fiction based on fact…at its best !
Erik Larson writes fictional novels based on actual historical events. He writes stories created on the foundation of superb and extensive research. He has a number of books based on historical reality:
- The Devil in the White City
Larson writes about the 1893 Chicago World’s fair which celebrated the 40oth anniversary of Columbus’ landing in the America’s. Over 27 million people came to see this amazing exhibition where 46 countries were represented by 200 major buildings. The newest technology of the era was highlighted in stupendously large buildings. Krupp of Germany showed off the cannon of all cannons, the Big Bertha, capable of shooting a 1 ton shell more than 6 miles; Tesla highlighted the new technology of electricity for domestic use; General Electric was there, Ford, Disney, Deere…the fair was more than commercialism and technology. It was an honouring of history, of neoclassicism, a revival of bygone greatness, beauty and bounty.
- In the Garden of the Beasts
Life in Hitler’s Berlin is almost beautiful in its splendour and dynamic social and cultural exuberance but becoming increasingly tainted with a growing number of racial and violent incidents precursing the near future.
Another splendidly written book based on anAmerican ambassador’s residency in Berlin.
- Dead Wake
The book recounts the last crossing of the Lusitania and its ill-fated arrival off the coast of Ireland. A captivating and suspenseful novel that makes one forget they are reading historical fiction.
The Devil in the White City
The first time I read The Devil in the White City, I was captivated by the construction of the World’s Fair in Chicago. The problems were unbelievable; the tasks to complete immense; the challenges and obstacles simply incredible. The collapsing American economy seemed to doom its possibility of success; the obstinancy of the railroad tycoons who refused fare reductions to develop fair attendance; the illnesses suffered by the architects and masterminds behind the fair. It was all fascinating reading.
Then Larson weaves in another layer, filled with suspense and excitement. A serial killer is using the Chicago fair as his resource for finding new victims, preferably young women, attracted to the fair for its job possibilities and exciting new lifestyle. The investigation and pursuit of this killer could have been the basis of a book on its own. The murder story is a thrilling counter balance to the excitement of the fair.
The second reading of the book made me appreciate Larson’s style and depth of research. This is an adult’s writer offering readers a erudite, elevated style which educates as well as entertains.