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The Devil in the White City Audiobook

The Devil in the White City

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Audible Editor Reviews

Why we think it's Essential - A master storyteller and veteran thriller narrator join forces to create this riveting true account of Chicago’s famous World Fair. But behind its Gilded Age of architectural feats and electrical innovation, lies a murderer waiting in the wings. True crime, history, and thriller fans are in for a treat. —Diana M.

Publisher's Summary

In a thrilling narrative showcasing his gifts as storyteller and researcher, Erik Larson recounts the spellbinding tale of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition.

The White City (as it became known) was a magical creation constructed upon Chicago's swampy Jackson Park by Daniel H. Burnham, the famed architect who coordinated the talents of Frederick Olmsted, Louis Sullivan, and others to build it. Dr. Henry H. Holmes combined the fair's appeal with his own fatal charms to lure scores of women to their deaths. Whereas the fair marked the birth of a new epoch in American history, Holmes marked the emergence of a new American archetype, the serial killer, who thrived on the very forces then transforming the country.

In deft prose, Larson conveys Burnham's herculean challenge to build the White City in less than 18 months. At the same time, he describes how, in a malign parody of the achievements of the fair's builders, Holmes built his own World's Fair Hotel - a torture palace complete with a gas chamber and crematorium. Throughout the book, tension mounts on two fronts: Will Burnham complete the White City before the millions of visitors arrive at its gates? Will anyone stop Holmes as he ensnares his victims?

© 2003 Erik Larson; (P) 2003 Books on Tape, Inc.

What the Critics Say

  • Edgar Allan Poe Award Winner, Fact Crime, 2004

"A hugely engrossing chronicle of events public and private." (Chicago Tribune)
"Vivid history of the glittering Chicago World's Fair and its dark side." (New York Magazine)
"Both intimate and engrossing, Larson's elegant historical account unfolds with the painstaking calm of a Holmes murder."(Library Journal)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (10023 )
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4.4 (7186 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Paul Scarborough, ON, Canada 09-30-05
    Paul Scarborough, ON, Canada 09-30-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "LONG- but interesting"

    Enjoyed this audio book... the history is amazing. Switching back and forth from the details of the construction of the Chicago World's Fair and a serial killer embedded within the mosaic of every-day life maintained my interest enough that I finished the book in several days. The details of inventions introduced at the times and the details of prominent (and not so well known) architects and inventors kept me busy figuring out who was who and what was what... but the return to the serial killer kept me grounded. The rich history embedded in the book was an education. My first audible book. GREAT... gonna get more!

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    jeanne 12-22-14
    jeanne 12-22-14 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Very Boring"
    What would have made The Devil in the White City better?

    A reader who varied his voice or showed some excitement. Some dialogue in the book.


    What other book might you compare The Devil in the White City to and why?

    A text book.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    Monotone with no material to help him out.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    I think the history about Chicago was great, which was the main virtue of the book.


    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patrick Lexington, SC, USA 02-11-05
    Patrick Lexington, SC, USA 02-11-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The Devil in the White City"

    I bought this book based on the glowing reviews but I have to say now almst 3 hours in I am really starting to wonder. It is a nice depiction of Chicago, and perhaps if I accept it as a history lesson and not the murder mystery I thought I was getting, it will be better.

    It just seems like there is a great story here but the author does not bring the characters alive to me. I want more dialog not the endless narration of a very repetitive nature.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ed Saint Augustine, FL, United States 06-21-11
    Ed Saint Augustine, FL, United States 06-21-11 Listener Since 2006

    Retired former magazine editor who is working harder than ever as Mr. Dad to his 13-year-old daughter.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Cold blooded Architectural Digest"

    I'm sure people who loved this book will disagree with me but my expectations were far from met after wading through 15 hours of listening. I thought the connection between H.H. Holmes and the Chicago World's Fair was tedious at best. Larson might have done just as well to insert a photo of a scantily clad girl from the gay '90s every 25 pages or so. Of course, that would have proved problematic for Audible customers. If you like "architectural talk" and the behind-the-scences motivations of those involved in the trade, then this is a book for you. That's especially true if you also like a sprinkling of "serial killer story" with your description of building and landscape architecture. This book was well researched and well written, hence the three stars. It just wasn't for me. (The last 50 minutes summarized the first 14 hours and would have sufficed.)

    25 of 35 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JoAnne M in Houston, TX Texas 05-02-15 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not interesting to me."

    Tried to find merit in this book but after several chapters, I gave up. If you are familiar with Chicago you might like this book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen Rich-Motis 03-19-15 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Much todo about not much"

    Two unique stories with little relevance to each other. Either would have been good in their own right but together, not so much .

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Martin Muravyav USA 11-29-14
    Martin Muravyav USA 11-29-14 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Outstanding!"
    Where does The Devil in the White City rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Probably one of my favorites. It was VERY well done.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I studied serial killers and profiling as an undergraduate. I assumed I would enjoy the story of HH Holmes more than the story of the fair but I found it the other way around. Oh the information about Holmes is great and if you are unfamiliar with the story, you really should listen to it, the man was pure evil but the story of the building of the Chicago Worlds Fair is just incredible. I had no idea of everything that went into that fair. I live in Illinois and have seen models of the fair and a few pictures but it's one of those things that I wish I could have seen. Even given today's modern world it would have been amazing BUT back then, the lights, the wheel, the buildings, the fountains etc etc.....all just totally amazing.


    Which character – as performed by Scott Brick – was your favorite?

    Holmes.....he did make him charmingly smarmy


    If you could give The Devil in the White City a new subtitle, what would it be?

    I can't think of a better one actually


    Any additional comments?

    I HIGHLY recommend this book. Not all of Larson's books are this good but this book, is one of the best true crime/non fiction books I have ever read.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Abraham Boston, MA 05-19-13
    James Abraham Boston, MA 05-19-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Scott Brick is an Illiterate"

    It always puzzles me how people can stand to listen to Scott Brick. I suspect they are people who have not read much. Scott Brick is unable to approximate ordinary human speech. He is CONstantly overEMphasizing ALMOST Every SYLlable. Get what I mean? It's like listening to most American actors do Shakespeare: most of the words are unfamiliar to them, and it's Shakespeare, right, so they think they're supposed to sound important. As a result, they sound like schoolboys proclaiming their first essay at school. Compare Denzel Washington with Kenneth Branagh.

    In short, read like people talk. It's simply said, but, as Scott Brick proves, hard to do. I'm not saying I'd do any better. But at least I know good narration when I hear it. Examples: Christopher Hitchens; Grover Gardner: Master of the Senate; Jeremy Irons: Lolita; Juliet Stephenson: anything she reads; Bronson Pinchot: Matterhorn; John Castle: Vanity Fair; Nigel Graham: Lord Jim. Even Fredrick Davidson, alias David Case, even though his accent is hard to take sometimes, knows when to stress a syllable and when not to. He flows, wheres Scott Brick is constantly stubbing his toe against the English language. Also terrible, for the same reason: John Lee. Stop ruining books by giving them to these people. Just pay Juliet Stephenson whatever she wants to read everything.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brett 09-28-05
    Brett 09-28-05 Member Since 2014
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    "EXCELLENT!!!!!!"

    Not only is this book a great read but it is incredibly informative. The parrallel story flows like water. I have recommeded it to several of my friends and they loved it.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    George J. Vournazos 04-20-05 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Must For All Chicagoans!"

    This book was fascinating! As a life long resident of Chicago, I found this book to be a must read. It lead to a wealth of emotions from pride in the "Chicago spirit" which accomplished and continues to accomplish great things to the disgust at the lax manner in which human life was treated at that time. Contrary to what some reviewers wrote, I found the detail to paint a rich and deep picture of that time that reflected the spirit and mood of the Era, not only in Chicago, but the country as well. Highly recommended!

    7 of 10 people found this review helpful

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