The prologue introduces one of the main characters and protagonist, Daniel Burnham, and his connection to the primary setting, the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. Author Erik Larson uses a flashback, while Burnham awaits answers from the ship hand, to deliver important background information about the setting. This flashback provides a brief description of the fair and events and people who made it so great. There is also mention of the evil that simultaneously existed with this greatness at the time of the fair. The author is setting the organizational pattern for the rest of the novel: the juxtaposition of the themes of good and evil in events surrounding the lives of Daniel Burnham and serial killer H.H. Holmes during the 1893 Chicago's World Fair. The flashback also gives a small taste of the nonlinear structure followed in the rest of the book. Chapters bounce back and forth between the lives of Daniel Burnham and
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