The Devil in the White City

by Erik Larson
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Address a recent current event (i.e., something from the last few weeks/months) by reading a specific print news article from a reputable news source (e.g., The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, etc.) and explain how an important idea, person, or event from The Devil in the White City relates to today. (Please include article link.)

The sensationalistic coverage of America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan and the ongoing concern over domestic terrorism are two current events that relate to The Devil in the White City.

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One recent event related to Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City is America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. The end of the nearly twenty-year war has garnered what some consider to be sensationalist media coverage, with media outlets relaying the disturbing scenes without much context or nuance. In The Washington Post, Margaret Sullivan has an article that assesses the hyperbolic stances on media platforms of varying political persuasions, and you might consider using this article for your assignment.

The dramatization of reality is alluded to in Larson’s account of H. H. Holmes and the Chicago World’s Fair. Early on, Larson quips, "Only Poe could have dreamed up the rest." Larson is referring to the macabre writer Edgar Allan Poe. The inclusion of Poe hints at the grizzly spectacle that’s about to unfold. As Sullivan’s article suggests, the media seems intent on turning the end of the Afghan war into a spectacle.

Another current event that connects to Larson’s book is political violence in America. The disputes about alleged election fraud in 2020, the violence at the capitol on January 6, 2021, and the anger over COVID-19 regulations have made a fair amount of people concerned about domestic terrorism. In The Devil in the White City, Larson presents a figure, Patrick Eugene Joseph Prendergast, who has a problematic relationship with politics. Although their reasons differ, many people in America today possess deep resentment toward political leaders and public officials.

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