Wednesday, January 04, 2023

Ten of the best 21st-century Chicago nonfiction books

Edward McClelland is a native of Lansing, Mich., which is also the birthplace of Burt Reynolds and the Oldsmobile.

McClelland’s most recent book, Midnight in Vehicle City: General Motors, Flint, and the Strike That Built the Middle Class, is a narrative account of the 1936-37 Flint Sit Down Strike, which led to the establishment of the United Auto Workers as the nation’s flagship labor union. His previous book, How to Speak Midwestern, is a guide to the speech and sayings of Middle America, which The New York Times called “a dictionary wrapped in some serious dialectology inside a gift book trailing a serious whiff of Relevance.”

At Chicago magazine McClelland tagged ten of Chicago’s best non-fiction books of the 21st Century, including:
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson (2003)

At 2.3 million copies, this may be the best selling book ever written about Chicago. Larson’s story runs on two tracks. It’s an account of the 1893 Columbian Exposition, Chicago’s debut as a world-class city. The fair was nicknamed the White City after the color of the buildings on the midway, whose construction was overseen by Daniel Burnham. Just a few miles away, serial killer H.H. Holmes was murdering and dismembering 27 victims in his Englewood hotel. Larson intertwined the biographies of Chicago’s greatest builder and its greatest destroyer.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Devil in the White City is among USA Today's twelve scariest books, Thomas Harding's eight favorite true crime books, Graham Moore's six favorite books about technology, Jeff Somers's eight top true crime books, Dell Villa's top five literary escapes to American cities, and Randy Dotinga's five favorite historical true-crime books from the last decade.

--Marshal Zeringue