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)
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!
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.
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.
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. :(
Grad student, yogini, microscopist. I listen to audiobooks and podcasts while at work and while commuting by bike.
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.
It was very well researched and written. It places HH Holmes within his historical context extremely well. The frequent tangents get tiresome, though.
Great voice, nice cadence.
Yes, and it soon will be!
Don' listen if you only want to hear about HH Holmes. If you love history, you'll love this book.
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.
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.
I was sceptical about how two stories, of architecture and mass murder, could be successfully told in one non-fiction novelization. But they are blended together wonderfully. Either story is fascinating. Together they leave the reader amazed in every little chapter. The reading is excellent too. Highly recommended!
The way this book drones on and on made me wish, for the first time ever, I bought the abridged version. No one cares about the exact details of every food menu of each formal event!
The author obviously did his research but WOW! Sometimes less is more.
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