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The Devil in the White City | [Erik Larson]

The Devil in the White City

In a thrilling narrative showcasing his gifts as storyteller and researcher, Erik Larson recounts the spellbinding tale of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. Also available abridged.
Regular Price:$35.93
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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

4.1 (5796 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Dan Freeport, Maine, United States 11-19-12
    Dan Freeport, Maine, United States 11-19-12 Member Since 2015
    ratings
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    1
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    Story
    "Violence toward Women, who needs it"
    What would have made The Devil in the White City better?

    Unless you enjoy violence toward women, I'd pass on this one. Even though it's couched in interesting historical anecdotes, I couldn't stand the run-up to sadism.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    Lenin in Berlin


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Scott Brick?

    sure


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    amzmag 11-09-12
    amzmag 11-09-12
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    "Great story"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Devil in the White City to be better than the print version?

    I don't think I would have enjoyed this story as much had I read the print version. Something about the subject matters makes the audio version so much more satisfying.


    Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

    yes


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    mark ny, NY, United States 11-05-12
    mark ny, NY, United States 11-05-12
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    "Scary, Thrilling Book"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Devil in the White City to be better than the print version?

    Absolutely! Very well narrated. Almost like a hollywood soundtrack...


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Devil in the White City?

    The nature of the crimes presented in this book are almost unbelievable - but true!


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

    All characters were very well detailed, complex and brilliantly crafted.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    The only extreme reaction I had toward this book is intense fear...


    Any additional comments?

    I highly recommended this audio book to all true crime buffs.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elizabeth B. Brandt Moscow, ID, US 11-05-12
    Elizabeth B. Brandt Moscow, ID, US 11-05-12 Member Since 2006
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    "Great Book -- Great Listen"

    This book was fascinating. The combination of a mystery and the history of the Chicago fair worked for me. I really enjoyed Scott Brick. If you like listening to popular histories, this is worth your time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MICHELLE HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC, United States 10-29-12
    MICHELLE HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC, United States 10-29-12 Member Since 2010
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    "I appreciated this book after a trip to Chicago"

    Well written.It cleverly merges two fascinating stories. I will read more Erik Larson, l enjoy his style of writing.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Ledyard, CT, United States 10-22-12
    Michael Ledyard, CT, United States 10-22-12 Member Since 2011
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    21
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    "Could not stop listening."
    Where does The Devil in the White City rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Top 5


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Devil in the White City?

    Don't pick one moment. The story holds you the entire time.


    What does Scott Brick bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    His narration is one of the most melodic and attention keeping of all the books I've listened. He is up there with Steven Fry, Patrick Tull, and David McCullough. I'm looking for other titles he's done.


    Any additional comments?

    Every year, around Halloween, I pick a thriller or scary book to read and get me into the mood of the season.

    This time I went for this one having not read a true crime piece before now. It was an excellent choice.

    The author expertly weaves the chilling tale of one of the countries earliest serial killers with the uplifting story of the Columbia World's Fair. It is beautifully done. I regretted finishing the book.

    While not a thriller, it does supply its chills. I think that this was due to both the fact that it is a real account, and that the author was able to present a dual narrative of the wonder and triumph of the fair, and the depravity and cunning of Holmes.

    I also got this on audiobook, and it was one of the most best ones yet. I usually don't listen to music when I run. The narrator was excellent.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jane Lee Gainesville, Florida United States 10-12-12
    Jane Lee Gainesville, Florida United States 10-12-12 Member Since 2013
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    "behind the scenes of a world fair"
    What did you like best about The Devil in the White City? What did you like least?

    The history and behind the scene's problems, which are probably the same today, were enlightening. Some of the people mentioned, whose products we use today, were fun to recognize. The mystery of Holmes could have been interesting, but was hit upon here and there, a tease, but not enough to make the book exciting.


    If you’ve listened to books by Erik Larson before, how does this one compare?

    I don't know.


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Scott Brick?

    yes


    Do you think The Devil in the White City needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    No.


    Any additional comments?

    This book would be tedious to anyone who not interested in the history of the Chicago world Fair.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Margaret 10-06-12
    Margaret 10-06-12
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    "A fantastic book! Full of things you should know."
    Would you listen to The Devil in the White City again? Why?

    Yes. What a great story!


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The city of Chicago.


    What about Scott Brick’s performance did you like?

    Everything.


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

    A city within a city and a freak at large.


    Any additional comments?

    Urge you to read this.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Old Man Parker Kailua-Kona, HI, United States 10-03-12
    Old Man Parker Kailua-Kona, HI, United States 10-03-12 Member Since 2009

    Low-Brow Artist

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Historically thrilling and chilling!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Devil in the White City to be better than the print version?

    YES. I can work while I listen.


    Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

    yes. I learned so much about on of the most remarkable world fairs, and one of the first serial killers in America - made Jack the Ripper look like mere mugger. This guy was doctor death and built a murder factory.


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

    All.


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

    History is stranger than anything your could make up.


    Any additional comments?

    Amazing beauty mixed with horror so extreme you feel sick just thinking about it... and knowing it's all true makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carol 09-29-12
    Carol 09-29-12
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    "Captivating - richly textured"
    What made the experience of listening to The Devil in the White City the most enjoyable?

    The story included such a wide range of interconnected stories: the first Farris wheel, america's first recorded cereal killer, landscape design, ambitions and city politics. It was very compelling.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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