The Devil in the White City draws listeners into a time of magic and majesty, made all the more appealing by a supporting cast of real-life characters, including Buffalo Bill, Theodore Dreiser, Susan B. Anthony, Thomas Edison, Archduke Francis Ferdinand, and others.
Erik Larson's gifts as a storyteller are magnificently displayed in this rich narrative of the master builder, the killer, and the great fair that obsessed them both.
©2003 Erik Larson; (P)2003 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.
"This is everything popular history should be, meticulously recreating a rich America on the cusp of modernity, in which the sale of 'articulated' corpses was a semi-respectable trade and serial killers could go well-nigh unnoticed." (Publishers Weekly)
My interests run to psychology, popular science, history, world literature, and occasionally something fun like Jasper Fforde. It seems like the only free time I have for reading these days is when I'm in the car so I am extremely grateful for audio books. I started off reading just the contemporary stuff that I was determined not to clutter up my already stuffed bookcases with. And now audio is probably 90% of my "reading" matter.
I know some people have said they really loved this book. I could never figure out why he chose to focus on these two stories in one book without ever being able to combine them. The murder story is interesting enough in its own way, especially if you're unfamiliar with this particular chapter of American history. The story of the Chicago World's Fair is more interesting. I had never appreciated how much world's fairs transformed the cities where they occurred or how much competition there was to outdo the last one. All the same, both stories come across as though they were written for the newspapers. That is, it's a kind of a dry reporting style, not likely to either excite or outrage. Unless, of course, you're one of those other people who really loved this book.
The link between architecture and homicidal insanity is unconvincing. Both the story of the World's Fair and the story of America's first serial killer are fascinating, but they don't match-up together as well as Larson would have us believe. The story necessitate some fascinating moments, but those moments are often told poorly. Larson clearly wants to build tension, leave his readers longing, and deal with the most grotesque moments with restraint and respect. He ends up instead sounding like he simply didn't complete his research, although I have no doubt he provide every available fact. I suspect that a touch of creative license would have made the book far more coherent and compelling. Larson also would have been better off if he had not picked up quite so many loose threads. While many of the side stories are interesting, they're so brief, and occur so sparingly throughout the main two plots, that they feel like incomplete distractions. Which is a shame, really. I would have loved to learn more about the worker's strike.
Absolutely. The book capture a fascinating moment in history quite vividly, and a few of the figures described even manage to wrangle a personality out of Larson.
This would make an exquisite visual text. There is so much imagery and essential architecture that I wish they'd make a mini-series out of it. Without a doubt, Cilian Murphy would make an excellent Holmes and wouldn't it be fun to have Stephen Rea play the detective who doggedly pursues him? As for the architects, I didn't get much of feel for any of them, nor did I for any of the female characters.
This book is interesting for its retelling of a great moment in American and Chicago's history as well as a dark moment in its history. Larson is not the best writer. His analogies seem forced and his prose sounds choppy. Still, this book is worth listening to for the story it tells. I was sucked in right from the beginning. I didn't want to stop listening until I got to the end. I only wish I had the hardcover so that it could have been unabridged and so that I could look at any included pictures to provide a visual for my imagination. I recommend it.
What I like about the story is the historical backdrop of a time when America has decided to send a message to the world of it's greatness and at the same time using the story of this great adventure, the World Fair of Chicago a dark veil seems to cloud above the city.
Tell us about yourself!
I enjoyed this book, but it wasn't as exciting as I thought it would be. I had no idea how interesting The Chicago World's Fair could be.
Excellent book, well read, and terrifying in its historical accuracy. Towards the end of the recording, there is an occasional cut in the sound that makes it difficult to understand some words. It isn't extreme, and I would still recommend this version, but it is noteworthy.
I love his voice. He calms me.
The audiobook kept skipping and it was very hard to listen at times. I feel like I missed out on crucial parts of the story because I couldn't hear the words. I am very frustrated because it was a good story.
Report Inappropriate Content