The Devil in the White City

by Erik Larson

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What historical reference is discussed on page 119 of The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson?

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The historical Engineering Magazine is mentioned. Being a journal for the engineering field, it is filled with minute statistical details and other minute detail that might be "of practical value" to engineers. It was published by David Van Nostrand. Van Nostrand Publishing was founded in New York in 1848 and was closed in 1968 when Litton industries bought them out and merged Van Nostrand with another firm. Van Nostrands's Encyclopedia of Chemistry and Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia are still published today under another publishing imprint. What this means is that if, on page 119, a reporter from the prestigious and influential Engineering Magazine is asking how the Chicago World Fair exhibition "will be ready in two years?" then a very intimidating potential foe to the project is asking a very leading question. If the project should be exposed as charlatanism by Van Nostrand's publication, a great many people would pay a great deal of attention. This potentiality would cause the project planners a great deal of uneasiness.

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It is difficult to find any clear historical references on this page.  The closest thing, in my view, is the mention of the attorney Clarence Darrow.  At this time, Darrow was not yet extremely famous.  However, he later would become famous as the defense attorney in a number of very high profile cases.  Darrow is most famous historically for his defense of John Scopes in the “Scopes Monkey Trial” and of Leopold and Loeb in their notorious Chicago murder trial.  Both of these trials were in the 1920s.  Darrow is now quite famous, making him a potential “historical reference” on this page.

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