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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 (9969 )
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4.3 (7173 )
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4.4 (7140 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Daniel Omans 02-09-16 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    "true crime"

    I didn't know much of the back story when I bought the book. I saw it on the shelves of friends over the years and all raved. I listen while I run. I had to re listen to some parts due to zoning out. highly recommend this book

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    boatgurl 02-08-16
    boatgurl 02-08-16 Member Since 2016

    boatgurl

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    8
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    Story
    "The pretentious prose takes patience"

    As an architect, I enjoyed the in-depth analysis of the complex drivers and consequences of the Columbian Exposition. I also enjoyed the exploration of the society within which a mass murderer operated. However, as a reader who prefers Mark Twain to Fenimore Cooper, I found myself rolling my eyes and thinking of Twain's essay, "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses," far to often.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nick Calhoun Griffin, Ga 02-02-16
    Nick Calhoun Griffin, Ga 02-02-16 Member Since 2016
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    4
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    Story
    "Very misleading title and publicity"

    Let there be no question about it; this book is about the Chicago World's Fair. The story is about the building and execution of the fair. Of the 15 hour runtime of the book about 3 is about HH Holmes. Holmes is a character that is not tied to the plot of the book. If you want to know about Holmes' killings you're out of luck, but if you want to know how many people got diarrhea at the fair you'll find it around the 10 hour mark.

    I was under the impression that the book would be about Holmes and the backdrop would be the fair. However, the book is about the fair and by the way, there's this crooked guy in town also a demented man shoots the mayor. Do not get this book if you want to read/hear about HH Holmes, but if you would like to know the entire menu at the dinner party for the fair's architect...You'll love it!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Heidi J. Lean 02-02-16

    jolean22

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    Story
    "Story within a story!"

    This book was FULL of information. there were times when I was lost among the many different characters- but I absolutely loved the beginning to end story of the Chicago worlds fair.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Theresa 02-02-16
    Theresa 02-02-16 Member Since 2016
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    5
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    "Historically Great"

    This book was great for a look back on history and architecture. Do not expect a lot of dialog or a sense of suspense. The murders are told in a factual way as is Although, even without these I still overall enjoyed it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ryan Chapel 02-02-16
    Ryan Chapel 02-02-16 Member Since 2016
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    24
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    Story
    "Ugh, boring."

    I was excited about this book after a recommendation from a friend. I was intrigued by the story of Holmes, and generally like architecture, so I was all in.

    I found the parts about the World's Fair boring (way too detailed), and the parts about Holmes weren't detailed enough. Just when a chapter about Holmes was starting to get interesting, the author left out details and moved back to the Fair. :(

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ellie Brown 01-30-16
    Ellie Brown 01-30-16

    Grad student, yogini, microscopist. I listen to audiobooks and podcasts while at work and while commuting by bike.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "History buffs will love this book."
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    This book is 40% about HH Holmes, 50% about the World's Fair, 10% about American history. It should be billed as such. I wish it were 90% about HH Holmes, 10% about the World's Fair.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    It was very well researched and written. It places HH Holmes within his historical context extremely well. The frequent tangents get tiresome, though.


    What about Scott Brick’s performance did you like?

    Great voice, nice cadence.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    Yes, and it soon will be!


    Any additional comments?

    Don' listen if you only want to hear about HH Holmes. If you love history, you'll love this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    LGreyC 01-29-16
    LGreyC 01-29-16 Member Since 2016
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    "Wonderful book, awful reading"

    This is a wonderful book for anyone interested in urban planning and true crime. Unfortunately the insipid song box reading it failed to realize that the text is interesting enough without his cheaply theatrical performance. I gave him one star only because zero is not an option, but he is a total zero.

    This made me realize that vocal fry is in fact the most annoying inflection, especially in older men like this guy.

    The worst thing is that the reading becomes more annoying as the text becomes better. I probably won't finish it and will DEFINITELY not listen to any other reading's by this guy.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carla 01-27-16
    Carla 01-27-16 Member Since 2012
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    "Great book!"

    I really enjoyed this book. Erik Larson is a fantastic writer. I recommend this book to my fellow history lovers.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. West Los Angeles 01-22-16
    S. West Los Angeles 01-22-16 Member Since 2014

    slwest

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    2
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    Story
    "Go for the abridged version"

    I had been so interested in this story but found the telling of it very repetitive and slow- at 15 hours. The reader, I felt, put too much "spin" on the text and didn't allow much room for interpretation.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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