The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America

Written by:
Erik Larson
Narrated by:
Scott Brick

Unabridged Audiobook

Ratings
Book
934
Narrator
86
Release Date
October 2002
Duration
15 hours 0 minutes
Summary
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The true tale of the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago and the cunning serial killer who used the magic and majesty of the fair to lure his victims to their death.

Two men, each handsome and unusually adept at his chosen work, embodied an element of the great dynamic that characterized America’s rush toward the twentieth century. The architect was Daniel Hudson Burnham, the fair’s brilliant director of works 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 the reader 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.
Reviews
Profile Avatar
Quinn K

This book was false advertising. I thought it would be a suspenseful novel about murder, scandal and secrets and instead it was literally a 15 hour novel about building a fair. The overwhelming majority of the novel was about architecture. I loved the potential of this book but it didn’t deliver and was a waste of time.

Profile Avatar
Kathleen S.

I found this pat of our history fascinating. All the great Americans who came together to transform Chicago and show off the things that where coming in the new century. The murderer interwoven was a lift to the fairs story. I highly recommend this book.

Profile Avatar
Ariel Burton

I enjoyed reading the book but enjoyed it even more so having it read to me.

Profile Avatar
Jon N.

Absolutely love this book! I was initially sucked into it because I am a Chicago native but ultimately fell in love with it because of how well it was written and how the author kept you on your toes by alternating between the different paths of Holmes and organizers of the 1893 Worlds Fair. I can’t say enough about this book as I will just become long winded and blow the plot lines therefore, I’ll just say I HIGHLY recommend it to anyone who is a lover of history yet, enjoys a good story! If that makes any sense lol!

Profile Avatar
Terryl D.

I’ve read this book and I listen to audio books. I think your entire production, spot on!!

Profile Avatar
Sabrina B.

Really not my favorite at all.

Profile Avatar
Anonymous

Very good story. Gave a side and insight to history that is never seen.

Profile Avatar
Michelle S

A very long and drawn out book that seems more focused on the erection of The World Fair and it's many plans and developments as it is a "thriller" . Still interesting but not great.

Profile Avatar
jennifer jones

Interesting subject matter and deeply researched by the author as evidenced in the minutiae of details. Trying to figure out the tie between the story of the world fair and the murders that took place in and around the same time period, as that was the only relationship. Gave up many times, but finished it so I could learn of final judgment of Holmes. A very challenging story to get through. I enjoyed the narrator. If you are into a detailed account, I.e., down to the last details of the world fair hospital and an accounting of what illnesses and how many cases of said illnesses, and like details- you will love this book.

Profile Avatar
Anonymous

This seems to be a tale of Architecture as opposed to a crime story . I suppose Architects would be more interested in such things, however for the laymen it is way too much. Holmes seems to be a secondary character to the Architecture storyline. Disappointing to say the least. It won't make a good movie unless you are used to droll subject matter. I give it a C minus.

Profile Avatar
Anonymous

Read it years ago, and was a great book. Even better in audio.

Profile Avatar
Anonymous

fairly interesting story but written like a history textbook. the narrator was ok but when I turned it up to 2x speed it was incomprehensible

Profile Avatar
Susan M.

I wanted to read this book many years ago when it was first published. Finally got around to it in audio and Larson's writing and the apparently abundant research behind it did not disappoint! Excellent narration, too.

Profile Avatar
Brian B.

I thought this was to be a murder/drama, what I got was a book about every boring detail about a fair nobody cares about. By the end of this miserable read you will be able to describe every blade of grass, every Nook and cranny at the fair but very little about the actual murders that took place. #garbage

Profile Avatar
Kevin H

Excellent story line, horrific story at times, but absolutely riveting! Scott's narration was nothing short of awesome.

Profile Avatar
Rod B.

Way too long and extraneous details not necessary to the dialogue of the story. Still a great listen.

Profile Avatar
Anonymous

Great story

Profile Avatar
Jswit

Very interesting look into the massive plans and execution of them in regards to having a world’s fair in a western city. Less about HH Holmes than I expected but still very well written fluid book.

Profile Avatar
Jerome L.

Didn't like it. Not that into 12 of architecture porn

Profile Avatar
QueenDread222

The book was a good read. Mostly about the world trade fair and I was expecting more about Holmes. Not dissatisfied in what was given and learned, but I wish Holmes had taken more of a focused role.

Profile Avatar
Cassandra C.

Awesome story Very creepy and extremely interesting

Profile Avatar
Matt M.

I found both the subject matter and the narration to be outstanding. There is a lot of detail in this book and that might be not be everybody’s cup of tea but I found it very interesting and quite compelling.

Profile Avatar
Anitra T.

Facts and history of early 1900’s well done.

Profile Avatar
Anonymous

I missed the trees for the forest. Loads of good detail that I couldn’t get into because I felt the structure of the parallel narratives, going back and forth, was too annoying.

Profile Avatar
Jennifer T

It wasnt what I thought it would be, but I enjoyed it all the same. The story of the logistics of the fair was drawn out too much, and while the events of the fair and the serial killer were simultaneously happening, the details surrounding the killings got lost in the details of the fair.

Profile Avatar
Alicia M

It was fun to hear about the historical architecture of the world's fair but I thought it was going to be more of a novel style book and a thriller. Instead it was someone reading me a history book.

Profile Avatar
Matthew Rioux

Great book about a great city!

Profile Avatar
Josie Sturdivant

Loved the book and it's history. Audio is the way to go made our road trip perfect!

Profile Avatar
Natalie Magleby

I tried reading this book and had a hard time staying engaged. Much better having it in audio. Lots of interesting facts and well read.

Profile Avatar
Lyndsey Craig

Very interesting read--particularly for those familiar with the Chicago area. Learned a lot about the history of the city and landmarks I pass by each day. The narrator really makes it!

Profile Avatar
LaMarr Anderson

Interesting story of the history for 1893's Chicago World's Fair. My prior knowledge of this history was non-existent so I found it a very worthwhile history lesson. Even learned how our now standard carnival Farris wheel came about! The interwoven parallel story of evil was sobering and saddening, but added intrigue for continued reading. At the end, there was unnecessarily gory descriptions and narrative. The narration was great! Bottom Line...an interesting book but is not at the upper end of my list of recommended books.. .

Profile Avatar
Frank Hoffman

We listened to this book on our way from to Tampa and throughout our time in Tampa. It was gripping, entertaining, and unnerving all at once. The historical backdrop of the Columbian Exposition (the World's Fair) of 1893 in Chicago was fascinating, particularly for a born Chicagoan from the South Side. I spent a lot of time in my youth traveling to and enjoying Jackson Park and the Midway. The juxtaposition of the lead up to the decision for Chicago to be awarded the Fair, and its development, while listening to the dreadful exploits of Holmes was mind-boggling. Both stories running parallel to each other kept us waiting for the the next part of the story. Well written!

Profile Avatar
alban flores

This book was well written and investigated historically. sure it was in detail but I think that is what makes this very interesting having been in Chicago many many times it gives you great appreciation of the places talking about. on my next short trip there which is only an hour away I'll look at Jackson Park and the the Museum of Science and Industry in a new light. this story is great for people like myself who are into history.

Profile Avatar
Tina Perez

I have to agree with JoJo13 review, far too many details about the World's Fair. I lost interest, but continued to listen to the end. Thanks to Scott Brick for keeping my interest. Scott is definitely one of my favorite narrator.

Profile Avatar
sander rubin

not as interesting as i had hoped, but overall well paced and extremely detailed

Profile Avatar
Jasmine Alleger

I did not think I would like this book because it likes voice in the writings but the story was so fascinating I couldn't stop talking about it.

Profile Avatar
Jonathan Kesler

Incredible content and structure. Very relevant to common capitalism and social dialogue.

1 book added to cart
Subtotal
$25.00
View Cart