Completely entertaining and educational. The dual plots - Construction of the Chicago World's fair and the building of the mass murderers' lair - kept the action moving. I thought the handling of the mass murderer's exploits was very well done. The author gave a very clear picture of the "devil" and his horrors without obsessing on the blood and gore. It was just the right touch for this reader.
The first half of this book was mildly interesting, but since I had never heard of the White City before, held little interest for me. The passages about Holmes, the psychopath of the tale, were morbidly fascinating, and kept me going through the stretches of getting the City gardens just so. By the second half, I was getting more interested in the City. It was actually sounding pretty good, and had some excitement with the setbacks encountered along the way. By the time the closing of the Exposition was chronicled, I wished I could somehow visit it and see the City and all its wonders for myself. The Holmes investigation at the end was very creepy. It was night and dark in my house, and I had to take a break until daylight! Very good and all the better for being non-fiction. The abridged version may have been better for me if it keeps all the Holmes sections, yet still captures the wonder of the Exposition.
This is not the type of book that I usually listen to but I found it totally absorbing. The two stories were educational and entertaining at the same time. I would never have experienced this book if it had not been for Audible! Thanks
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in history, technological invention, engineering, architecture, construction, human accomplishement against great adversity, and crime. Fascinating juxtapositioning of the best man can accomplish set against the darkest of our nature. I loved this book.
This was a very entertaining and informative audiobook. The reader is excellent and the prose as read very entertaining. The best characteristic of this book is the gradual and deliberate development of the parallel stories the author is telling. The plots are interesting and the author interrelates them well. There is one potential fault. The author went into considerable detail in developing the story of the Columbian Exposition and I suppose he felt he needed to add a lot of detail concerning the activities of the fiend Holmes as well. Since I can do without the gruesome details of the murders (particularly the way he dealt with the bodies), I simply tune out that part of the book. These portions are really very short and those who want to listen to those parts will probably find them interesting. I judge audiobooks as good or excellent when I look forward to continuing my listening and when I am sure that I am following the book over the period of time it takes to finish the book. This one meets those criteria and therefore it is a "5."
Me, myself, and I.
You might not be able to tell from my previous reviews, given that I have heaped praise on a number of books here, but I am pretty picky. If I don't like something, if I am struggling to get through it, I just stop. What is left are books that I find generally engaging, fascinating, and overall an enjoyable experience.
Topping just about everything I've listened to in the past 12 months or so that I've been a member is this nearly perfect story. Erik Larson's narrative non-fiction is among the best available in any form. This story of the interweaving of herculean city building and evil incarnate is nearly unbelievable. Neither story feels like it could have taken place in the reality we inhabit. But as we all too often know, real life can be quite jarring, unbelievable, and amazing.
So it is with the most fervent recommendation that I suggest you read/listen to this book. Do it because the writing is impeccable. Do it because Erik Larson has set a new standard for whatever genre this actually falls into. And do it because you will finish the book with a newfound appreciation for Chicago, its roots, and the work of men to build things, discover things, and, ultimately, be greater than human in a time that often tried to stop them from doing so.
Oh, and Scott Brick is fantastic here. I want to say more about his reading, but the quality of the overall work itself drawfs anything else in its wake. Just know that Scott Brick does a great job, and his work here is another reason that I seek out books that he narrates, just as I do with a few other top-tier readers.
The depth the author goes into about the fair in Chicago is amazing. I would put this book up there with books by Dan Brown.
This story of how the Chicago World's Fair came to be was full of exciting history and atmosphere. I learned that much of what we have today is traceable back to that fair. The juxtaposed story of the serial killer is also increadibly interesting. The whole book is full of facts; names, dates and places, so I couldn't imagine wading through all this by actually reading it. Listening to it was a pleasure.
Though parts of this book are rather gruesome, this is really a fascinating book. I enjoyed learning about the architecture of Chicago and everything that went into the World's Fair. Larson's narrative kept me wanting to know what was going to happen next.
The part about the fair was not very interesting. The part about HH Homles was much better. Overall not bad. If you enjoy non- fiction history, then you like the book. It just did not do it for me.