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The Devil in the White City - Book Report/Review Example

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The paper "Historical Analysis of The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson" presents an overview of post-Civil War American as the background to a recounting of the true story of America’s first serial killer, HH Holmes. The paper examines the events of history in a theoretical, obscure manner…
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The Devil in the White City
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Download file to see previous pages The so-called Gilded Age of American history was indeed a time of remarkable productivity. After the damage and chaos of the civil war a sudden spurt of energy occurred throughout America, but especially in Northern and mid-Western cities such as Chicago. An echo of the English Industrial Revolution that had transformed Britain a century before, the American industry blossomed, and with it is cities.
However, as Larson suggests, along with the growth of great cities with populations measured in the millions come the anonymity, strangeness, and loneliness associated with them. Holmes was both a product of these tendencies, and also took advantage of them. His comments regarding his own moral state, while melodramatic, may also encapsulate the great battle that was occurring between Labor and Capital that was producing highly efficient, but somehow inhuman cities. While obviously self-serving, Holmes brings up an important factor – the sense of powerlessness within the modern cities as the battle between Labor and Capital played out. The idea of creation is vital within the book, in the sense of industrial construction of various worlds that both clash with and yet strangely complement one another. Thus, Daniel Burnham struggles against an unforgiving landscape (swamps) and a government bureaucracy to see his dream rise above the city; and all the while Homes is building (and then secretly adapting) his torture and murder house.
The fact that Holmes was a Doctor of Medicine adds a further layer of irony to the book. A person trained to help and cure people, who one might expect would be least likely to actually enjoy doing the opposite, enjoy doing just that. Industrialization and the science and creativity that both create it and which it nurtures can be used for a variety of means. Thus Holmes was very particular about the exact temperature his crematorium would reach so that it would destroy any evidence of the bodies he put there. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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