Erik Larson's narrative non-fiction book The Devil in the White City tells the history of the Chicago World's Fair of 1893, also known as the Columbian Exposition. He tells this story the way no one has told it before, using primary sources such as newspaper articles from the time, journals, first-person accounts, and other sources to intertwine the story of two very different men--Daniel H. Burnham, the architect who built the fair, and H.H. Holmes, a con man and murderer who uses the fair and its anonymity to deceive and kill. By any account, the results are masterful, and the book is very compelling.
Though each reader is entitled to his or her own opinion, most critics and readers agree that The Devil in the White City is a masterful and well-done history. First of all, his use of new types of sources broadens and enriches the story that Larson tells. Second, by combining the stories of Burnham and Holmes, Larson makes the point that the anonymity afforded by new modern cities allows for greatness and evil to co-exist. Third, the story is very suspenseful and readable. While some books of history bog down in unnecessary detail, Larson's use of a strong narrative and his use of vivid details that re-create the time period make this a very compelling book.