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The Devil in the White City Audiobook

The Devil in the White City

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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

4.2 (9688 )
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4.3 (6913 )
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4.4 (6878 )
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Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Laura Dumuhosky 07-09-15 Member Since 2014
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    9
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    Story
    "Well done!"

    It is difficult to tell well such a sad and disturbing story, but Larson delivers.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Beverly 07-03-15
    Beverly 07-03-15 Member Since 2014
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    Story
    "Great book"

    So interesting and frightening. Extremely well read. I found the history of Chicago, a city I love, fascinating.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Seattle, WA, United States 06-23-15
    David Seattle, WA, United States 06-23-15 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Overly Breathless"

    I can't tell if it is the writing or the narration that is the source of my trouble with this book. But the combination of the two leads to an campily dramatized and overwrought narrative. It seems to give grand and dark weight to even trivial details. You expect every line could be accompanied by ominous organ music. The obvious concealing of well known facts until their dramatic reveal grows tiresome and feels unnecessarily manipulative. The book is obviously well researched, I just wish the gravity of the noir could've been more contrasted with levity of the fair.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    TL 06-23-15
    TL 06-23-15 Member Since 2014
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    5
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    "Just fantastic stuff"

    Nothing better than Erik Larson digging into history. HOlmes' story is the highlight but the worlds fair becomes just as fascinating once built.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brett P. Ziller 06-21-15 Member Since 2013
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    16
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    Story
    "Great story. Good for audio medium"

    Great story. Good for audio medium. Learned quite a bit about 19th century urban planning

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nick 06-21-15
    Nick 06-21-15 Member Since 2012
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    "Amazing"

    Just amazing unsettling but just amazing well researched and well read
    This is 5 biographies in one book enjoy

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Douglas 06-20-15
    Douglas 06-20-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Fascinating Intersection of Two Stories"

    Larson did a great job of bringing two distinctly interesting and intriguing stories to life in a single work.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elliot Lethbridge, AB, Canada 06-19-15
    Elliot Lethbridge, AB, Canada 06-19-15 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not what I was expecting, not in a good way"

    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?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DeeLeitzel USA 06-15-15
    DeeLeitzel USA 06-15-15 Member Since 2014

    Auntie Pretzel

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    9
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    Performance
    Story
    "H.H. Holmes and the Chicago World's Fair"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    mom987123 06-13-15
    mom987123 06-13-15
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    28
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    Story
    "Immersion in Another Time"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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