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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 (12280 )
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4.4 (9256 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Jared 06-26-16
    Jared 06-26-16
    ratings
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    4
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    Story
    "Great story, great reading but written like a history book"

    I have had this book recommended to me by several people. I tried but I couldn't get through it. The story is compelling and the reader is very talented but the style of writing put me to sleep.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bludgy arts student Sydney, Australia 06-22-16
    Bludgy arts student Sydney, Australia 06-22-16 Member Since 2011
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    "Needs more killng"

    Interesting to have two subject that I know little about but needs more HH Holmes, should be a book on its own.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marcus Harrisburg, PA, USA 06-17-16
    Marcus Harrisburg, PA, USA 06-17-16 Member Since 2014
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    Story
    "Outstanding!"

    This story - these stories, more accurately - were mesmerizing from beginning to end. The Chicago World's Fair story was surprisingly just as compelling and interesting as the story of HH Holmes, one of America's first serial killers. The narrator was perfectly matched to the content and character of the era in which the stories occurred.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael 06-15-16
    Michael 06-15-16

    Story Telling Enthusiast

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    "Lots of Interesting History"

    Long but very interesting historical journey through Chicago at the turn of the century. Who would have know that the Chicago Worlds Fair had produced do much innovation.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Krystal Green 06-10-16
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    "Dark History of Chicago"
    If you could sum up The Devil in the White City in three words, what would they be?

    Eerie. Wondrous. Compelling.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    My favorite character is "Dr. H. H. Holmes" - he is a brilliant and charismatic man that commits grisly acts in an urban utopia.


    What does Scott Brick bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Scott Brick's performance was more free of inflection which gave me the opportunity to create the characters in my mind. However, he has an entrancing voice that was perfect considering the breadth of historical information covered in the book.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The feats described in the book were amazing - I especially enjoyed reading about the building of the first "skyscrapers" and how the name came about. Every shift to Dr. H. H. Holmes story was also terrifying while staying away from being too lurid.


    Any additional comments?

    Wonderful fusion of fact and story-telling. The author did extensive research to accurately portray the events of the time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    justaguyreviewing Saratoga Springs, ut, United States 06-09-16
    justaguyreviewing Saratoga Springs, ut, United States 06-09-16 Member Since 2014
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    "Amazing history with interesting storylines"
    Where does The Devil in the White City rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This was a different book for me but one I'll listen to again. The pair of storylines, one about the World Fair and the other about Devil took some getting used to and then I was hooked. Absolutely amazing name drops of attendees, loads of great information I had no idea about and amazing ending. This book was recommended by a friend and we've talked about it a lot since.


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

    ?


    What about Scott Brick’s performance did you like?

    I liked it. I listened at 1.5x


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

    The secrets of early Chicago


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Psalm119Woman 06-09-16 Member Since 2017
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    27
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    Story
    "Boring!"

    This book would have been so much better if the city was the backdrop to Holmes' murders, rather than it's equal. The many trivial characters and details of the Fair detracted from Holmes' life, which by itself should have been the main focus.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alisia Abegg 06-06-16 Member Since 2015
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    "Excellent narrator"

    Fantastic and well written story. Very detailed yet interesting. The narrator does a great job.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Debbie M. Simpson 06-05-16
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    "Devil Indeed"
    What did you love best about The Devil in the White City?

    I enjoyed learning about the invention of the Ferris Wheel. I didn't realize that the first one was so massive.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    H.H. Holmes was not a character to like. In fact, he was a character to abhor, but he was the most interesting character in the story. I found myself dying to know what he would do next and was amazed that he got away with such heinous crimes for so long.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I found myself routing for the fair to succeed. The day that the tide turned and several hundred thousand turned out for the fair was my favorite scene.


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

    The Devil in Miracle City -- there were so many obstacles that it was a miracle that the fair was finished in time.


    Any additional comments?

    There were times that I found it difficult to focus my attention on the narration -- times when I found the book extremely boring. However I was glad that I listened to the book in its entirety. I learned a lot that I had not previously known about the building of the fair and about the inventions and innovations derived from the fair. I was never bored with the book in its telling of the atrocities of H.H. Holmes, however.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JoEllen Arnold 06-02-16
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    "Ghastly. Don't bother"

    I had to read this for a book club. Listened at 1.25 speed and still found it unbearably long. Foreshadowing. Melodrama. Throw in every historical figure possible and include unnecessary details. I'd have preferred a straightforward narrative about the fair without the devil.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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