I just finished Devil in the White City.
In White City, Erik Larsen describes the Chicago World's Fair, it's creators, its dark side, and its influence, but he writes about more than good and evil (a big theme regardless). I think that he writes about lives and projects that matter. The projects that matter in this novel are larger than one man can accomplish, they exalt not just one man but cities, nations, and civilizations.
The men who live for themselves in this story fade like vapors. They are foils for the great men, men who believed there were more important goals than announcing themselves to the world.
Said of William Pretyman, "His genius was betrayed by lofty and indomitable traits of character which could not yield or compromise. And so his life was a tragedy of inconsequence."
The Fair's director and architect, Daniel H. Burnham, said, "Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood."