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.
"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)
This book was more about the worlds fair anything to do with Holmes. It read more like a list of dry facts rather than an interesting recounting of Holmes' activities.
But overall a very interesting story. Abridged version may be the better go chose from as it drug in more than one spot. Still worthy read.
The story was interesting, but it's a shame that the narrator was terrible. He made listening to one of the most interesting and gruesome events in history as boring as listening to him read the yellow pages. Wish I hadn't wasted a credit on this book.
It is a good story not a bad performance but something about it let me put it down and not pick it back up
Unless you would like to read a book about how a serial killer disposes of his victims I advise you not read this book. Day and night I had disturbing thoughts I could not get out of my head after reading this book. I hate to hear about how this serial killer kills and get rids of his victims. I advise unless you like this, read this book.
I enjoy that quiet time where I can sit with a very good cup of coffee and listen to a good audio book.
The story of the two characters was very good, but in some cases it was very wordy.
Sort of; I very much enjoyed the beginning, but the middle third dragged quite a bit and became repetitive, and the end left me largely unsatisfied. I kept waiting for the author to tie the two halves of the story together, but in my opinion he never did.
It felt more like two books; one about America's first documented serial killer, H.H. Holmes, and the other about the 1893 Chicago Columbian Exposition. The two stories took place at the same time in the same area, but none of the chief characters ever crossed paths, and the author did not thematically link them until the postscript. Even then the linkage was limited to a couple of lines, and was merely stated rather than demonstrated in the body of the book.
I feel like I would have enjoyed each story better if it had actually been split into two parts. Constantly switching back and forth between the stories took something away from each of them rather than adding to the whole.
I would, provided the book's scope were more focused. The writing itself was of a very high quality. Larson has a knack for evoking the feel of a scene and for fleshing out the personality of characters.
There were a lot of charming scenes involving Burnham in the book, and some creepy ones involving Holmes.
What would have been one of my favourite scene became my least favourite; Larson describes in detail the internal thought process of one of Holmes' victims after he traps her in his vault. He describes exactly what she is thinking about up to the moment of her death. Until that point I expected that she had escaped and written an account of her ordeal. In fact Larson completely fabricated her internal monologue, which I think is completely unacceptable in a work of non-fiction. It's not presented as "here is what she might have thought," it's presented as "here is what she thought" unequivocally.
For me this soured much of the rest of the book, as I could never be sure what Larson had based on real firsthand accounts and what he had chosen to invent for dramatic effect. Perhaps this would have been mitigated had I read the book in its printed form and could examine the end notes.
Yes I would, if it were solely about Holmes and Detective Geyer, and was directed by David Fincher.
Overall I was disappointed with the book, but others might not feel the same way. If you don't mind the stories being disjointed and want to learn more about the 1893 Chicago Fair, late 19th century American architecture, and turn of the century attitudes toward serial murderers and crime in general, then by all means pick up Devil in the White City.
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