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)
I have never wanted a book to end as much as this one. I refused to give up on it because of all of the great reviews. I was hoping for a gripping storyline about hundreds of murders, by one man, and how the police hadn't figured it out. Instead, this was mostly about the building of the World's Fair.....blah. I wish I could get my time back.
Yes. I felt this story did a great job of transporting you back in time to the time of the worlds fair and the way things where in a time when cities where growing and Amercia was becoming what it it today. The characters if this story are brought to life and you feel for them with each step forward and each set back.
It wasn't really and edge of your seat type of book. I feel like I knew the outcome of both story lines but this gave me so much more of an understanding of what went on with both of them.
He did really well with inflicting the right emotion for each section of the book.
The tenacity of a few wonderful men to make a dream come true and the evil of one man to create a nightmare beyond any you can imagine.
This book was a great listen. Being from the Chicago area I learned so much about the city and how it became what it is today. I always knew that the city had a great history now I can see the shadows of that history in some of the places that are there still today. This book was a great listen though there are a few slow spots it is well worth the listen. Highly recommended.
One of the best books I've listened to even though it's not my usual genre. Being a historic architect may have colored my enthusiasm but I truly believe anyone would enjoy this unique combination of history and 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
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.
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.
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