The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson has been selected for the 2006 “One Book – One Lincoln” program.
About One Book – One Lincoln – 2006
One Book – One Lincoln is a community reading program co-sponsored by Lincoln City Libraries and the Lincoln Journal Star. The program encourages all adults in Lincoln and Lancaster County to read and discuss the same book at the same time. The goal of the program is to encourage reading and dialogue by creating a community wide reading and discussion experience.
The idea of city-wide reading programs started in Seattle in 1998 with the program “If All Seattle Read the Same Book” initiated by the Washington Center for the Book, located at the Seattle Public Library. The Library of Congress’ Center for the Book reports that “One Book” programs are being introduced across the U.S.A. and around the world.
This is Lincoln’s fifth year of the program. In the fall of 2002, thousands of Lincolnites read and discussed Plainsong by Kent Haruf. For 2003, Ann Patchett’s award-winning novel Bel Canto was selected for our second city-wide reading experience. In 2004, Leif Enger’s dazzling debut novel Peace Like a River was the choice and during the fall of 2005, Lincolnites went on a journey of friendship, discovery and redemption, exploring the culture and history of Afghanistan and its people, as we read and discussed Khaled Hosseini’s novel The Kite Runner. Now, in 2006, for the first time, a non-fiction title has been selected — Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City — an exploration of the heights and depths of humanity, through the simultaneous exploits of the creators of the miraculous 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, and the murderous Dr. Henry H. Holmes, one of America’s first serial killers, who preyed on the Exposition’s attendees.
Lincoln City Libraries Reference staff have compiled additional resources about The Devil in the White City and Erik Larson.
How can I participate?
- Get the Book. Check out a copy of The Devil in the White City at any of the Lincoln City Libraries or purchase your own copy at your local bookstore. The title is available at Lincoln City Libraries in hardback and paperback, abridged book-on-CD, unabridged audiocassette, and unabridged book-on-CD formats. Free reserves are available on this title for the duration of One Book – One Lincoln – 2006!
- Read! Join your family, friends, co-workers, neighbors and fellow Lincolnites in reading the same book – together!
- Attend our related programs.
- Look at our additional resources about The Devil in the White City.
- Discuss the Book in Person or Online! Attend a Community Discussion at your local library, bookstore, community and recreation center. A complete list of Community Discussion groups is available here. Contact the library to have a trained facilitator come and lead your own discussion group.
- Help us evaluate our program by filling out our feedback form [now deactivated].
Setting up a discussion group
Are you interested in starting a discussion group or leading a discussion about The Devil in the White City? Lincoln City Libraries have materials available to those interested in sponsoring a discussion group. For further information about organizing a discussion group, copies of the discussion questions, posters, and bookmarks, call Lincoln City Libraries, 441-8512
A training session for those interested in setting up their own discussion groups will be provided in late September.
- Thursday, September 28, 2006, 7:00 p.m. at Panera Bread, 201 N. 66th St.
Preregistration is not necessary for this training session. If you have questions, please contact the Lincoln City Libraries at 441-8562.
We can provide a discussion leader for your group
So you want to have a One Book – One Lincoln discussion group, but you don’t have a discussion leader? During September, October and November, Lincoln City Libraries staff will be available to organizations, businesses and clubs interested in hosting a discussion group. For further information, call Lincoln City Libraries, 441-8562
What programs will there be? Will the author visit?
Several special programs are being scheduled at various branches of the public libraries during September, October or November with ties to the themes and events of The Devil in the White City. You can see descriptions at our Special Programs page. At present, Erik Larson is not scheduled to visit Lincoln.
This Web site will be updated to reflect any new information regarding special programs and events as it becomes available.
How was The Devil in the White City chosen?
A call for nominations from the community in January resulted in 137 different titles being nominated. The general criteria for the title included:
- Fiction or Non-Fiction
- Of general interest to adults and young adults
- Sparks thoughtful discussion
- Easily available in paperback
- Address universal themes of life
A selection committee with community-wide representation was formed to narrow the list down to five finalists, and ultimately to select the book for this year’s community reading program. Members of that committee included:
- Tami Works, Chair
- Karen Amen
- Patty Beutler
- Franz Blaha
- Nancy Erickson
- Donna Ewoldt
- Dave Hamilton
- Lisa Kelly
- Jeff Kirkpatrick
- Pat Scudder
- Andrea Skiles
- Laura Weymouth
- Miki Wigley
- Kerstin Vandervoort
- Otis Young
The title they selected is The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson.
Two men, each handsome and unusually adept at his chosen work, embodied an element of the great dynamic that characterized America’s rush toward the twentieth century. The architect was Daniel Hudson Burnham, the fair’s brilliant director of works and the builder of many of the country’s most important structures, including the Flatiron Building in New York and Union Station in Washington, D.C. The murderer was Henry H. Holmes, a young doctor who, in a malign parody of the White City, built his “World’s Fair Hotel” just west of the fairgrounds—a torture palace complete with dissection table, gas chamber, and 3,000-degree crematorium. Burnham overcame tremendous obstacles and tragedies as he organized the talents of Frederick Law Olmsted, Charles McKim, Louis Sullivan, and others to transform swampy Jackson Park into the White City, while Holmes used the attraction of the great fair and his own satanic charms to lure scores of young women to their deaths. What makes the story all the more chilling is that Holmes really lived, walking the grounds of that dream city by the lake.
The Devil in the White City draws the reader into a time of magic and majesty, made all the more appealing by a supporting cast of real-life characters, including Buffalo Bill, Theodore Dreiser, Susan B. Anthony, Thomas Edison, Archduke Francis Ferdinand, and others. In this book the smoke, romance, and mystery of the Gilded Age come alive as never before.
Erik Larson’s gifts as a storyteller are magnificently displayed in this rich narrative of the master builder, the killer, and the great fair that obsessed them both.
What other books were considered for 2006?
The other four finalists for One Book – One Lincoln – 2005 were:
You can also Click Here for more detailed information about the five finalists!
The Lincoln Journal Star and the Lincoln City Libraries thank the following additional supporter of One Book – One Lincoln: