The Evil That Men Do

When I was high school, I had to memorize Marc Antony’s funeral oration in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, one bit that always stuck with me, other than the famous lend me your ears line is the part right after that:  The evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones.  Whenever I recite it in my mind it’s in Richard Burton’s voice. Marc Antony meant this speech to be sarcastic, while his words approved with Caesar’s assassination, he really changed the public’s minds and turned the tide against the killers, who eventually where hunted down and killed.  But I digress, I love that line, the evil that men do….so ominous, I’m sure it’s a tagline for plethora of horror books and novels.

We can name some horrible people whose existence has eradicated the lives of a certain people, like Hitler or Pol Pot.  Their very touch was a  cancer to those lives they managed not to extinguish.  The evil that they did certainly has trickled down after them.  

One day while browsing through a bookstore, I came upon  a book called The Devil In The White City:  A Saga of Magic and Murder at The Fair That changed America by Erik Larson, I admit I was attracted by its cover and that title font that oddly reminded me of The Wizard of Oz (I don’t know why).  The book sat on my shelf for quite sometime, until I finally took it down and read it.  I don’t know what to say, I was mesmerized by the story.  It takes place during the time of the Chicago’s World Fair.  I truly don’t know what to say that hasn’t been said before:  it’s well-written, it’s comes off wonderfully imaginative despite being based on truth.  On the one hand you have this story of American Progress, of all the people and technology that came together to create the World Fair, which must have been amazing to behold, and this book puts you right in the middle of it, and on the other hand  you have the underbelly of Chicago, where a man preys on the anonymity of the many who flocked to Chicago for the fair or for work, and were never seen alive again.  This man created a house of horrors where he tortured women for pleasure.  The story is vivid, and I love the way the author highlights his tale by showing us the amazing feats of humanity at the fair and the depths of depravity committed by H. H. Holmes.  How many novels can you name that simultaneously charmed and disturbed you?

46 countries worked together and participated in the fair, the extraordinary work that people put in to bring about the fair was, yeah, i’m running out of synonyms for extraordinary, but that’s what it was-extraordinary.  

H.H. Holmes confessed to the murder of 27 people, but is believed to have killed over 200 in his “torture castle.”  The evil of H.H. Holmes lives on in his infamy.

The infamous H. H. Holmes

I have just purchased on my PC Kindle app, Eric Larsen’s latest novel, In the Garden of Beasts:  Love, Terror, and An American Family in Hitler’s Berlin, which I cannot wait to read.

3 thoughts on “The Evil That Men Do

  1. This is the first I’ve heard of H.H. Holmes. The scary thing is he doesn’t even look creepy….but the thought of building a hotel just to kill women is horrible! Can you imagine them being all excited about the World Fair and then being killed. Gosh…

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