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Publisher's Summary

Two men embodied an element of the great dynamic that characterized America's rush toward the 20th century. The architect was Daniel Hudson Burnham the brilliant director of works for the 1893 Chicago World's Fair and the builder of many of the country's most important structures, including the Flatiron Building in New York and Union Station in Washington, D.C. The murderer was Henry H. Holmes, a young doctor who, in a malign parody of the White City, built his "World's Fair Hotel" just west of the fairgrounds - a torture palace complete with dissection table, gas chamber, and 3,000-degree crematorium. Burnham overcame tremendous obstacles and tragedies as he organized the talents of Frederick Law Olmsted, Charles McKim, Louis Sullivan, and others to transform swampy Jackson Park into the White City, while Holmes used the attraction of the great fair and his own satanic charms to lure scores of young women to their deaths. What makes the story all the more chilling is that Holmes really lived, walking the grounds of that dream city by the lake.

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.

Critic Reviews

"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    322
  • 4 Stars
    239
  • 3 Stars
    104
  • 2 Stars
    31
  • 1 Stars
    18

Performance

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    254
  • 4 Stars
    125
  • 3 Stars
    47
  • 2 Stars
    8
  • 1 Stars
    8

Story

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    225
  • 4 Stars
    135
  • 3 Stars
    57
  • 2 Stars
    15
  • 1 Stars
    10
Sort by:
  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Non-fiction That Reads Like A Good Story

Fascinating intertwined stories around the Chicago World Fair. Well written and well narrated, you won't want to put it down.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Great story, poor recording

The story is intricate and haunting but never boring. The latter half of the digital file had a lot of "squelchy" sounds but there were intermittent that you could follow the story.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

I guess I wanted more of a horror story

Interesting, but I guess I was looking for something else. Seem to focus more on the building of the world fair than I was expecting.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Intriguing Story

What made the experience of listening to The Devil in the White City the most enjoyable?

The story kept me wanting to listen on as there were two stories going on at the same time. It is a great combination of murder mystery and historical fiction.

What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

I really learned a lot about the Chicago's World Fair.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Buy the unabridged

I feel like the abridged left out some interesting details from the story. Overall great book though.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Stunning and magical.

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.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • MARY
  • Olive Branch, MS, United States
  • 08-04-16

Not for everyone

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.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Excellent aside from some editing issues

The track began to skip at very crucial parts of the story which was frustrating. Please fix!

Despite this, I would probably listen again.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Fuzziness at end of recording

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.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • CT
  • 05-13-16

audio

I enjoyed the book. The audio started slipping at the end, which caused me to miss a few things.