Sample History Book Reviews Paper on Devil in the White City

Book Reviews

Devil in the White City

Authored by Eric Larson, Devil in the White City is a fascinating piece that narrates the story of Daniel H. Burnham and Henry H. Homes during the construction of World’s Fair in Chicago (Larsen, 2003). The story starts in the late nineteenth century, a period when buildings were being erected in the White City in haste for industrialization.  The antagonists are both talented and quite energetic. Burnham, the Fair’s principal architect, is a brilliant director who builds numerous vital structures in the country. On the other hand, Holmes is a serial killer who erects a torture chamber fitted with a gas chamber, crematorium, and dissection table.

Through the use of real-life characters such as Susan B. Anthony, Buffalo Bill, and Thomas Edison, the novel draws the readers into a period of majesty and magic. The story set the pace in 1890 when a proposal to construct the World Fair was made, with Chicago clinching the vote. Burnham was mandated to design the Fair, owing to his ability to build dense and tall buildings in Chicago’s wet and soft sand. Overcoming multiple challenges, he managed to set up the gigantic, awe-inspiring and magical project.

The Teapot Dome Scandal

In this book, Laton McCartney narrates a complex and fantastic story of the biggest scandal in the history of the U.S. at that time. The book describes how Big Oil picked Warren G. Harding to serve as the 23rd President (McCartney, 2009). Oilmen in the U.S. were able to secure reserves originally set aside for the Navy as a result of the president’s ‘oil cabinet’. Senior government officials and the press were paid to cover up the story. Additionally, government officials were compensated to oversee the covering of the GOP campaign debt.

Sooner, the news of the scandal surfaced with the implications proving disastrous for the country. Harding’s administration was strained, and the American people lost confidence in the government. Additionally, the secretary for Interior was charged, convicted, and later incarcerated. Others implicated in the scandal also faced the same tribulations. Although some people in the President’s circle managed to escape and essential documents went missing, McCartney tells how far-reaching the scandal was.


Larsen, E. (2003). The devil in the White City. New York: Vintage.

McCartney, L. (2009). The Teapot Dome Scandal: How Big Oil Bought the Harding White House and tried to steal the country. Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition.