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The Devil in the White City Audiobook

The Devil in the White City

In a thrilling narrative showcasing his gifts as storyteller and researcher, Erik Larson recounts the spellbinding tale of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. Also available abridged.
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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 (8795 )
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4.4 (6085 )
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Performance
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  •  
    JoAnne M in Houston, TX Texas 05-02-15 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not interesting to me."

    Tried to find merit in this book but after several chapters, I gave up. If you are familiar with Chicago you might like this book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen Rich-Motis 03-19-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Much todo about not much"

    Two unique stories with little relevance to each other. Either would have been good in their own right but together, not so much .

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    lynn louisville, Cayman Islands 03-19-15
    lynn louisville, Cayman Islands 03-19-15 Member Since 2009
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    "A couple notches lower than "meh""

    I wanted to like this. I tried. Great topic, interesting situation. Maybe it was better as a book. For me it felt like reading a map or 14 hours of "A +B-W= h and then Q\W".
    Hours and hours.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ghorowitz3 New York 03-06-15
    ghorowitz3 New York 03-06-15
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    "Ruined again by Scott Brick"
    What made the experience of listening to The Devil in the White City the most enjoyable?

    The story is irresistable, the writing is fine


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    Any time Scott Brick stopped using his habitually snarky intonation -- which was rare


    Would you be willing to try another one of Scott Brick’s performances?

    In a Nelson DeMille or Lee Child book sure. In non-fiction, only because I have no choice


    If you could give The Devil in the White City a new subtitle, what would it be?

    The Devil who makes publishers continue to use Scott Brick for everything regardless of suitability


    Any additional comments?

    Have I made myself clear: Scott Brick has exactly one gear: snark overdrive. Fine when called for by the content, ridiculous for 90% of what he is currently used for.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    jeanne 12-22-14
    jeanne 12-22-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Very Boring"
    What would have made The Devil in the White City better?

    A reader who varied his voice or showed some excitement. Some dialogue in the book.


    What other book might you compare The Devil in the White City to and why?

    A text book.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    Monotone with no material to help him out.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    I think the history about Chicago was great, which was the main virtue of the book.


    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Martin Muravyav USA 11-29-14
    Martin Muravyav USA 11-29-14 Member Since 2016
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    "Outstanding!"
    Where does The Devil in the White City rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Probably one of my favorites. It was VERY well done.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I studied serial killers and profiling as an undergraduate. I assumed I would enjoy the story of HH Holmes more than the story of the fair but I found it the other way around. Oh the information about Holmes is great and if you are unfamiliar with the story, you really should listen to it, the man was pure evil but the story of the building of the Chicago Worlds Fair is just incredible. I had no idea of everything that went into that fair. I live in Illinois and have seen models of the fair and a few pictures but it's one of those things that I wish I could have seen. Even given today's modern world it would have been amazing BUT back then, the lights, the wheel, the buildings, the fountains etc etc.....all just totally amazing.


    Which character – as performed by Scott Brick – was your favorite?

    Holmes.....he did make him charmingly smarmy


    If you could give The Devil in the White City a new subtitle, what would it be?

    I can't think of a better one actually


    Any additional comments?

    I HIGHLY recommend this book. Not all of Larson's books are this good but this book, is one of the best true crime/non fiction books I have ever read.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Abraham Boston, MA 05-19-13
    James Abraham Boston, MA 05-19-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Scott Brick is an Illiterate"

    It always puzzles me how people can stand to listen to Scott Brick. I suspect they are people who have not read much. Scott Brick is unable to approximate ordinary human speech. He is CONstantly overEMphasizing ALMOST Every SYLlable. Get what I mean? It's like listening to most American actors do Shakespeare: most of the words are unfamiliar to them, and it's Shakespeare, right, so they think they're supposed to sound important. As a result, they sound like schoolboys proclaiming their first essay at school. Compare Denzel Washington with Kenneth Branagh.

    In short, read like people talk. It's simply said, but, as Scott Brick proves, hard to do. I'm not saying I'd do any better. But at least I know good narration when I hear it. Examples: Christopher Hitchens; Grover Gardner: Master of the Senate; Jeremy Irons: Lolita; Juliet Stephenson: anything she reads; Bronson Pinchot: Matterhorn; John Castle: Vanity Fair; Nigel Graham: Lord Jim. Even Fredrick Davidson, alias David Case, even though his accent is hard to take sometimes, knows when to stress a syllable and when not to. He flows, wheres Scott Brick is constantly stubbing his toe against the English language. Also terrible, for the same reason: John Lee. Stop ruining books by giving them to these people. Just pay Juliet Stephenson whatever she wants to read everything.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Mill Valley, CA, United States 05-26-12
    Michael Mill Valley, CA, United States 05-26-12 Member Since 2009
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    "Impossible to stop listening"

    Of the 30+ books I've listened to since 2009, The Devil in the White City is one of the best experiences. Erik Larson's writing is sublime. He conjures the Chicago of the late nineteenth century so clearly that he might be documenting events that occurred yesterday. The stories about the design, organization, and construction of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair as well as the personalities involved are all utterly fascinating. The macabre portions that deal with serial killer Dr. H. H. Holmes are so bizarre as to almost be unbelievable. While listening to this book, I found myself continually thinking, "Truth truly is stranger than fiction."

    Prior to my listen I was apprehensive about the narrator, Scott Brick, who had also done Ron Chernow's Washington: A Life. I felt that Brick's reading of that book was slightly stilted, but his performance of Devil in the White City is pitch perfect.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Oliver 03-07-09
    Oliver 03-07-09 Member Since 2010
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    "slow"

    The part about the fair was not very interesting. The part about HH Homles was much better. Overall not bad. If you enjoy non- fiction history, then you like the book. It just did not do it for me.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    mm 03-03-09
    mm 03-03-09 Member Since 2012
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    "Learned details of Chicago Worlds Fair"

    If you are just interested in detailed history of the people who developed the Chicago Worlds Fair, then you may like this audiobook. I thought that the characaters were quite boring. Even the serial killer's story was quite ho hum to me.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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