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Firsts at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair

03 Sep 2003 by

The first moving pictures on Edison’s Kinetoscope. The first zipper. A pancake-in-a-box kit under the brand name Aunt Jemima. The first automatic dishwasher. A new gum called Juicy Fruit. A curious new snack called Cracker Jacks. A new cereal named Shredded Wheat. The first Ferris Wheel (built to out-do the Eiffel Tower). The most important organizational invention of the century: the vertical file (yes, even that didn’t exist at one point). The Pledge of Allegiance. Pabst Blue Ribbon (named “Blue Ribbon” cause it won first place).

Find out more in this incredible, begging-to-be-a-movie book, Devil in the White City ( Buy at Amazon).

5 comments so far (Post a Comment)

03 Sep 2003 | One of several Steves said...

I read "Devil in the White City" over the July 4th weekend. Excellent, riviting book, and Larson did a really good job of joining together two seemingly disparate stories.

The serial killer aspect is, of course, fascinating. But just as fascinating was the excellent history of that World's Fair. It's always been one of those thing that I knew had happened, that some big things had come out of, but I hadn't really known just how influential it was and what a watershed event it was in this country's cultural history.

03 Sep 2003 | Benjy said...

While the 1893 World Fair in Chicago introduced many wonderful new products to the world, it set back the world of architecture back a few decades. While Chicago had spent the previous 20 years revolutionizing the field, the planners decided to revert back to the neo-classical designs of the past rather than showcase the emerging new American architecture.

03 Sep 2003 | andrew said...

Movie rights for Devil in the White City have reportedly been snapped up by Tom Cruise, who will play Holmes, I'm sure. You can also bet the Exposition portion of the story will be dramatically diminished in the screenplay.

I just finished this the other day and while the stories are fascinating, I thought the book was very poorly written. Larson routinely built up to factoids without going into a lot of meaningful detail. I suppose that's what all the bibliography is for, which I will be tracking down. There were also short pieces about individuals or the times that didn't seem to make any sense in the context of either the fair or the murders. Good quick read, though.

Benjy, did you just lift that little architectural commentary straight from the end of the book?

03 Sep 2003 | Benjy said...

andrew, I've never read the book, so no. I remembered that bit of commentary from a modern architecture art history course I took while in college.

04 Sep 2003 | One of several Steves said...

Andrew, that was the one big shortcoming I noticed too. There were a lot of things that were raised that Larson didn't finish off that I would have liked to learn more about. But, I think at least in regards to Holmes, it was due in large part to the thinness of the historical record. I'd say in a work of non-fiction, it is better to not venture into areas where there's no record to back it up.

But, to me, the loose ends didn't detract from an otherwise well-done book. Was perfect for summer reading, actually. Very engaging story, quick read.

On my list is to go check out some of the stuff from the bibliography as well.

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