Review: H. H. Holmes: The True History of the White City Devil

Review: H. H. Holmes: The True History of the White City Devil

Earlier this year the History Channel featured a much-hyped and rather gruesome series called American Ripper. The series speculated that H. H. Holmes, whom some have dubbed “America’s first serial killer” (which isn’t true, by the way), was also Jack the Ripper. If you’ve watched my blog, you might have seen my candid review of the flawed TV series. After watching the series, I recalled my delight in reading The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson (one of my favorite authors, by the way). Soon I noticed Adam Selzer’s book (Adam was featured as a consultant in American Ripper), and after reading snippets, I decided to purchase it for my Kindle. What a great read! If you’ve read The Devil in the White City, you’ll find this book to be not only supplemental but even more comprehensive in exploring Holmes and his history and character. Selzer often plumbs the depths…

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American Ripper Heavy on Gore but Light on Proof

American Ripper Heavy on Gore but Light on Proof

The year 1888 was busy in the annals of crime. While Jack the Ripper preyed on prostitutes in London, H. H. Holmes oversaw the construction of a large hotel/office building designed with unique amenities. It included hidden rooms, doors literally going nowhere, an airtight vault, and a chute going all the way to a basement crematorium. By the time of his execution in 1896, H. H. Holmes, Chicago serial killer at the time of the 1893 World’s Fair, had reportedly murdered more than twenty people. The History Channel series American Ripper gives us the H. H. Holmes treatment but with a twist.  The premise is that H. H. Holmes was also Jack the Ripper. Jeff Mudgett, Holmes’s great-great grandson is determined to prove his ancestor was the notorious Jack and partners with Amaryllis Fox, a former CIA operative, to hunt down the proof. First-Rate Production First, the positive. This production is top notch when it comes…

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Book Review: The Johnstown Flood

Book Review: The Johnstown Flood

Why do I like stories about disasters and tragedy? The Titanic. The Galveston Hurricane. The Holocaust. These are all topics I find myself interested in, mainly because, though some people certainly die, I like the stories of everyday people who overcome incredible odds. That’s the crux of every good novel, if you think about it. Plus these are real people—nobody made them up—and their stories of courage and tragedy haunt me. The Johnstown Flood of May 31, 1889, is one of those stories that grabbed ahold of me and wouldn’t let go until I’d finished reading David McCullough’s fine, engaging book. I wanted to know how two thousand people could just die because of a broken dam. And how could a dam fall into such disrepair and fail? Didn’t the people in the valley below realize they were living in a major flood zone? Didn’t anyone warn them? Why would anyone…

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My Lincoln Conspiracy Obsession

My obsession began back in high school when I had to write one of those dreaded term papers. Except for me, of course, it wasn’t so dreaded. I actually liked writing term papers (while my friends groaned), especially when I came across fascinating books like The Day Lincoln Was Shot by Jim Bishop. If you think history is boring, you haven’t read a book like this one. (And if you’re new to the Lincoln conspiracy, this is a good place to start.) Amazon describes Bishop’s book as a “gripping, minute-by-minute account of the day President Lincoln was struck down by an assassin’s bullet in Ford’s Theatre. Parallels of the activities of the President with those of his assassin in an unforgettable, suspense-filled chronicle.” That’s a very accurate description. The first chapter is “7:00 a.m.” on April 14, 1865, and the last is “7:00 a.m.” on April 15, 1865, after Lincoln passed…

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