En junio 1933, William E. Dodd, profesor de historia de la Universidad de Chicago, recibe la inesperada llamada del presidente Franklin D. Roosevelt, que le nombra embajador de Estados Unidos en Alemania. Al poco emprende viaje hacia Berl?n con su mujer y sus dos hijos, Bill y Martha. ?sta, una atractiva joven de 24 a?os, seductora y veleidosa, se toma el viaje como una aventura. Berl?n es un nido de conspiraciones, agarrotada por el miedo, pero conserva a?n el encanto de una ...
En junio 1933, William E. Dodd, profesor de historia de la Universidad de Chicago, recibe la inesperada llamada del presidente Franklin D. Roosevelt, que le nombra embajador de Estados Unidos en Alemania. Al poco emprende viaje hacia Berlín con su mujer y sus dos hijos, Bill y Martha. Ésta, una atractiva joven de 24 años, seductora y veleidosa, se toma el viaje como una aventura.
Berlín es un nido de conspiraciones, agarrotada por el miedo, pero conserva aún el encanto de una ciudad cosmopolita, y Dodd y Martha tardan en comprender la magnitud del desastre que se avecina. Durante meses el padre adoptará una actitud apaciguadora y la hija coqueteará alegremente con la cúpula del poder nazi. Sin embargo, Dodd acaba entendiendo lo que está en juego; Martha también acaba descubriendo el horror que se oculta tras los oropeles de las fiestas, los diplomáticos enamoradizos y los nazis elegantes.
Como si de una trepidante novela se tratara, Erik Larson realiza una documentada reconstrucción del Berlín de 1933, una ciudad que vivía una de esas encrucijadas en que la realidad supera a la ficción. Una obra que ofrece una perspectiva humana de la historia, donde los sueños y debilidades de cada uno se despliegan sobre un telón de fondo en el que se palpa la inminencia del horror en estado puro.
Erik Larson has an uncanny ability to find riveting stories lurking in rarely-explored corners of American history. From the devastating hurricane he recounted in Isaac’s Storm to the exploits of a monstrous serial killer in Devil in the White City, Erik Larson is proving that a book doesn’t have to be fictional to be wildly entertaining.
Often times, truth is indeed stranger than fiction. Take the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, Illinois. The fair was the groundbreaking birthplace of such things as neon lights and the Ferris Wheel; a wonderland of futuristic technology and architecture. It was also the playground of a demented murderer who set up his very own chamber of torture within striking distance of the fair. This bizarre dichotomy of creation and destruction is what enticed Erik Larson to tell the twisted tale of the 1893 World's Fair in his fascinating fourth book Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America.
Journalist Larson's work displays a fascination with the ways various forms of violence affect every day life. His second book Lethal Passage: The Story of a Gun is an exploration of gun culture throughout American history, using a horrendous incident involving a machine-gun toting 16-year old as its uniting thread. His next book, the griping, critically acclaimed Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History, detailed one of the worst natural disasters in American history, a hurricane that hit Galveston Texas in 1900 leaving between 6,000 and 10,000 people dead. However, when Larson first encountered the story of Dr. Henry H. Holmes, he was reluctant to use it as the basis for one of his books. "I started doing some research, and I came across the serial killer in this book, Dr. H. H. Holmes," he told Powell's.com. "I immediately dismissed him because he was so over-the-top bad, so luridly outrageous. I didn't want to do it. I didn't want to do a slasher book. It crossed the line into murder-porn. So I kept looking, and I became interested in a different murder that actually had a hurricane connection, where I of course got distracted by the hurricane and wrote Isaac's Storm."
When Larson completed Isaac's Storm and began researching ideas for his next book, he began reading about the 1853 World's Fair. Hooked by the numerous colorful characters and amazing occurrences surrounding the fair, Larson decided he would use it as the subject for his fourth book. Still, he had little interest in telling a straight chronological play-by-play of the fair's creation. So, he resolved to revisit the subject that had so repulsed him prior to writing Isaac's Storm.
Dr. Henry H. Holmes was a heinous modern monster. Just west of the fair, he built the mockingly named "World's Fair Hotel" where he would torture his victims by any number of means. The grotesque hotel was equipped with its very own gas chamber, dissection table, and crematorium. As abhorrent as Holmes was, Larson could not resist the jarring juxtaposition of this remorseless killer and the fair.
The resulting book Devil in the White City is both a richly detailed history and a chilling yarn as unbelievable and spellbinding as any work of fiction. The book was both a finalist for the National Book Award and a Number 1 New York Times bestseller. It was garnered nearly universal raves from The New York Times, Publisher's Weekly, Esquire, The Chicago Sun Times, and The San Francisco Chronicle, among many, many others.
Perhaps the most awe-inspiring aspect of Devil in the White City is the fact that the book is an accurate history that also manages to be a riveting page-turner. As Larson says, "I write to be read. I'm quite direct about that. I'm not writing to thrill colleagues or to impress the professors at the University of Iowa; that's not my goal." Larson's goal was to render a fascinating story, and he succeeded admirably with Devil in the White City.
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As entertaining as Larson's historical works are, he currently has little interest in expanding into fiction. "The research [involved in nonfiction] appeals to me," he told Powell's.com. "I love looking for pieces of things in far-flung archives -- but the beauty is that the complexity of the characters is there. You don't have to make it up."
As thoroughly detailed and well-researched as Larson's books are, it is hard to believe that he does not employ an assistant. Every detail in his books was gleaned by the author, himself.