Mysteries from History

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America

By Erik Larson

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"Before the turn of the 20th century, a city emerged seemingly out of the ash of then dangerous Chicago, a dirty, grimy, teeming place ravaged by urban problems. Daniel Burnham, the main innovator of the White City of the 1892 World's Fair, made certain that it became the antithesis of its parent city, born to glow and gleam with all that the new century would soon offer. While the great city of the future was hastily being planned and built, the specially equipped apartment building of one Herman Webster Mudgett was also being constructed. Living in a nearby suburb and walking among the hundreds of thousands of visitors who would eventually attend the fair, Mudgett, a doctor by profession more commonly known as H.H. Holmes, was really an early serial killer who preyed on the young female fair goers pouring into Chicago."
Also available on audio.

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The Fasting Girl: a True Victorian Medical Mystery

By Michelle Stacey

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In June 1865, 18-year-old Mollie Fancher was dragged by a Brooklyn trolley car for nearly a block, leaving her paralyzed from the waist down. She then took to her bed for the rest of her long life, becoming an international celebrity because she was able to survive without, apparently, ever eating. Was she a fraud, a saint or a victim of mental illness -- or a bit of all these things?

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The Lost King of France: How DNA Solved the Mystery of the Murdered Son of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette

By Deborah Cadbury

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"Louis-Charles, Duc de Normandie, enjoyed a charmed early childhood in the gilded palace of Versailles. At the age of four, he became the dauphin, heir to the most powerful throne in Europe. Yet within five years he was to lose everything. Drawn into the horror of the French Revolution, his family was incarcerated and their fate thrust into the hands of the revolutionaries who wished to destroy the monarchy. In 1793, when Marie Antoinette was beheaded at the guillotine, she left her adored eight-year-old son imprisoned in the Temple Tower. Far from inheriting a throne, the orphaned boy-king had to endure the hostility and abuse of a nation. Two years later, the revolutionary leaders declared Louis XVII dead. No grave was dug, no monument built to mark his passing. Immediately, rumors spread that the prince had, in fact, escaped from prison and was still alive... ."

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The Man in the Ice: The Discovery of a 5,000-year-old Body Reveals the Secrets of the Stone Age

By Konrad Spindler

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"The story of the amazing discovery of a man frozen in the Alpine ice, told by the leader of the international team of scientists who investigated the find. A classic of scientific discovery that reveals to us the fullest picture yet of Neolithic man, our ancestor."

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The Poet and the Murderer: A True Story of Literary Crime and the Art of Forgery

By Simon Worrall

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Mark Hofmann began his career by forging and selling rare Mormon coins, and quickly moved on to creating false, highly controversial religious documents that threw the Church of Latter-Day Saints into turmoil. But it was his infamous Emily Dickinson poem that would prove his greatest deception, stunning the art and literary worlds and earning him thousands from the most distinguished Dickinson scholars. It would also prove his ultimate undoing, when his desperation to keep his greatest forgery a secret drove him to commit ever more heinous crimes -including acts of shocking violence.

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The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary

By Simon Winchester

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There are two tales in this page-turner. One is how the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) was compiled, which is fascinating in itself; and the other is a gripping story of a convicted murderer who spends his life sentence as a major contributor to the OED. This one stays in your mind for a long, long time.

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The Search for Nefertiti

By Joann Fletcher

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Dr. Fletcher investigates a mummy believed to be of little importance and discovers that it is the remains of Queen Nefertiti. She documents the 13 years she spent studying Nefertiti’s life and examines how the kings and queens of Egypt are viewed in popular culture, while explaining how modern technology and forensics have changed archaeology.

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Who Murdered Chaucer: A Medieval Mystery

By Terry Jones

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"In this work of historical speculation Terry Jones and a team of international scholars investigate the mystery surrounding the death of Geoffrey Chaucer over 600 years ago.… What if he was murdered? What if he and his writings had become politically inconvenient in the seismic social shift that occurred with the overthrow of the liberal Richard II by the reactionary, oppressive regime of Henry IV? … This hypothesis is the introduction to a reading of Chaucer's writings as evidence that might be held against him, interwoven with a portrait of one of the most turbulent periods in English history, its politics and its personalities."

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