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)
It was an ok book, but I was expecting a crime novel and not a book about Chicago architecture. I feel deceived because the selling point for me was the story about HH Homes and the Murder Castle. It's in there but not near as much as one would expect. Seems like they didn't have much solid information about him and his crimes (compared to other criminals in history) and they padded the book to fill it out. I will say the padding was relatively interesting but I kept on thinking... Where's the beef?
Erik Larson succeeds once again in making history and eras gone by into stories both fascinating and enlightening. I read 'The Devil in the White City' three or four times before listening to the Audible version, and can honestly say it is a book that I enjoyed greatly.
The narration/performance of Scott Brick is well done and professional. Something about his style of reading bothered me, in his dramatized delivery, and emphasizing each detail with nary a break in the tone. The urgency given to each word ended up being tiring to listen to for long stretches of time, but this may not be the effect for others. He does an excellent job with superb material, but it wore me out listening frankly.
Still I highly recommend this Audible book, and also highly suggest you read the hard copy too. You can't go wrong with an Erik Larson creation.
Incredibly well researched, skillfully written, with enough historical detail and interesting facts to keep the brain engaged and the right amount of drama to feed the voyeur. I also loved Isaac's Storm by same author about the Galveston hurricane.
this is a fantastic chronicle of all the chaos and mayhem of pre to post world's fair chicago. it paints an unbelievably bleak picture of a day in the life before the exposition, how choking smoke from coal furnaces and putrid smells from meat slaughter characterized the city's visage.
on top of that, it's no wonder that amongst the chaos of the world's fair a terror like H.H. Holmes was operating unnoticed, seeing as how mortality surrounding the fairs construction was almost normal.
I moved to this beautiful city not long ago, and I had no idea of the full extent of its colorful past. it's a past of both thick, disturbing darkness, and mezmerizing, majestic white light.
pick it up if you can, and learn something.
Member since 2001, and they said it wouldn't last!
Another wonderful book for history is made real thank you so much for Eric Larson
I think I had the same caption for another Erok Larson book. Mother books are meticulously researched, and interesting, but they tend to run on past the point of interesting. I learned a lot, but I finished as and act of will, and not because the story compelled me. If you liked Larsons other work, you'll like this one too.
Enjoyed the history and commingling of historical events surrounding the fair. There is so much I didn't know or realize about the time, especially in Chicago, and I must visit Jackson Park next time I'm there.
At times the architecture bits got draggy but Holmes bits were always interesting in a macabre way. The reader's over dramatic style of voicing the text was the only real draw back.
Starts slow, haunts you, then sort of fades... As a Chicago resident I love the city history and commentary! The narrator is good, but I also found my mind wandering. Not sure if that was the text or the narrator. Holmes was truly a madman, and the Fair people were equally fascinating in a completely different way. I wish there had been a conclusion to the suspicious female neighbor of Holmes, and I also thought the investigation at the end by Geyer was one of the more intriguing parts. I would have liked to hear more of that.
This was my first Larson book but won't be my last.
In the top of non-fiction stories
Burnham. Because he perseveres despite great obstacles and is a loyal friend.
It is too slow and lugubrious in tone. Unfortunately, he narrates a lot of books. I have found the best way for me to still enjoy books he narrates is to listen at 1 1/2 speed if available or at 2x speed if necessary. 2 x is a little fast, but forces me to concentrate and I don't hear his depressing intonation nor have to put up with his incredibly slow pace. Perfect! Though it makes me have to buy more audiobooks as I get through them faster.
The whole story of the Chicago World Fair.
I plan to read more of Erik Larson's books. Well written! He makes history fascinating. Great read!
Beautiful in words, and read exceptionally well. The most accurate and thorough novel of a fascinating part of American history.
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