The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. New York Times best seller. This book masterfully combines the true stories of a serial killer and the 1893 Chicago World's Fair (so many "firsts" and connections to later acheivements of well know men). All spoken words are verified from written sources, but it reads like a fast-paced novel. Larson paints an incredible picture of the time period.
The Devil in The White City: Murder, Magic and the Madness at The Fair That Changed America – Erik Larson (2003)
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Isaac's Storm by Erik Larson (2000). Erik Larsen writes about history like a great novelist. I've read most of his books, and have enjoyed them all a great deal, but he outdoes himself in this account of the Galveston Hurricane of 1900. It's a thrilling book, with vivid and memorable characters that seem to have sprung from a great work of fiction. I can't recommend this highly enough.