The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America Audiobook, by Erik Larson Play Audiobook Sample

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

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America Audiobook, by Erik Larson Play Audiobook Sample
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Read By: Scott Brick Publisher: Random House Audio Listen Time: at 1.0x Speed 10.00 hours at 1.5x Speed 7.50 hours at 2.0x Speed Release Date: October 2002 Format: Unabridged Audiobook ISBN: 9780736697750

Quick Stats About this Audiobook

Total Audiobook Chapters:

60

Longest Chapter Length:

58:29 minutes

Shortest Chapter Length:

46 seconds

Average Chapter Length:

14:56 minutes

Audiobooks by this Author:

9

Other Audiobooks Written by Erik Larson: > View All...

Plot Summary

The year 1893 heralded in the World's Fair to a bustling Chicago cityscape, and with it, wonders both glorious and terrible alike. It was not only the 400th anniversary of Columbus' arrival in the New World, but it was the great city's chance to show how truly exceptional it was in recovering from the Great Chicago Fire nearly twenty years prior. There was an energy in the air, quite literally, with demonstrations of electricity by Thomas Edison and others. The fair also presented the first ever Ferris Wheel, as well as one of the first night football games. Architect Daniel Burnham oversaw the magnanimous construction of over 200 new buildings for the occasion, expanding the city significantly.

And while Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City touches on these exciting attractions, especially going into detail about Burnham's work, it focuses most on another first for American history at that unbelievable fair. Dr. H. H. Holmes is considered to be the United States' first recorded serial killers, having slaughtered an estimated 200 innocent lives. Holmes, a certified doctor and drugstore owner, ran a hotel that opened just in time for the World's Fair. The hotel turned out to be a labyrinthine death trap. His victims were gassed, suffocated, and even tortured. The basement was later discovered to contain various devices for torture and disposing, including a stretch rack, a dissection table, and lime. Larson's thrilling novel explores the actions of Holmes amidst the magical city-wide festival, and the 150 year old mysteries behind these awful crimes.

Erik Larson is best known for his many historical novels, such as In The Garden of Beasts (about Nazi Germany) and Thunderstruck (documenting the invention of the radio). He has also contributed to The New Yorker and Time Magazine. The Devil in the White City has received high praise, including the 2004 Edgar Award for Best Fast Crime novel.

"I have this book and decided to get audiobook due to eye issues. I love listening rather than reading. I can do this while I crochet. Devil in White City is a thriller for sure and it follows the true crime story of H.H. Holmes. Now, he is even being compared to Jack the Ripper and in fact, may even be the Ripper. It's a do not miss if you are into historical true crimes."

— Lynda Nelson (liL0Ladehoo) (5 out of 5 stars)

Publisher Summary

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 listener 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. In this audiobook the smoke, romance, and mystery of the Gilded Age come alive as never before. 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. To find out more about this audiobook, go to http://www.DevilInTheWhiteCity.com.

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Quotes

  • “Paints a dazzling picture of the Gilded Age and prefigure the American century to come.”

    — Entertainment Weekly
  • “Another successful exploration of American history…Larson skillfully balances the grisly details with the far-reaching implications of the World’s Fair.”

    — USA Today
  • “A dynamic, enveloping book…Relentlessly fuses history and entertainment to give this nonfiction book the dramatic effect of a novel…It doesn’t hurt that this truth is stranger than fiction.”

    — New York Times
  • “Engrossing…Exceedingly well documented…Utterly fascinating.”

    — Chicago Tribune
  • “So good, you find yourself asking how you could not know this already.”

    — Esquire
  • “As absorbing a piece of popular history as one will ever hope to find.”

    — San Francisco Chronicle
  • “Gripping drama, captured with a reporter’s nose for a good story and a novelist’s flair for telling it.”

    — Kirkus Reviews
  • “Both intimate and engrossing, Larson’s elegant historical account unfolds with the painstaking calm of a Holmes murder. Although both subjects have been treated before, paralleling them here is unique.”

    — Library Journal
  • “Listeners will also be fascinated by descriptions of the sheer logistics of the fair itself, which serve as not only carefully crafted and informative history, but also as welcome breaks from the macabre and relentless contrivances of the killer. In all, it’s a polished presentation of an intriguing book that outlines the heights of human imagination and perseverance against the depths of our depravity.”

    — Publishers Weekly
  • “If you did not know this is a history book, you would think it a mystery novel, so skillfully does Larson weave together the story of the architect who directed the building of the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893 and the story of the psychopathic serial killer who murdered a number of those who were drawn to Chicago by the fair…Such a combination of writing skill and historical inquiry is rare indeed.”

    — KLIATT

Awards

  • Winner of the 2004 Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Fact Crime
  • Winner of the 2003 International Horror Guild Award for Nonfiction
  • Winner of the 2004 Washington State Book Award
  • Winner of the 2004 Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award
  • Recipient of the2004 Book Sense Book of the Year Honor Award
  • Shortlisted for the 2003 CWA Gold Dagger for Nonfiction
  • A USA Today bestseller
  • A #1 New York Times bestseller
  • A 2003 National Book Award Finalist
  • A New York Public Library Staff Pick of Favorite Books of the Last 125 Years
  • A Town & Country Magazine Pick of the Best Mystery Books for Any Mood
  • Among shortlisted titles for National Book Awards

The Devil in the White City Listener Reviews

Overall Performance: 4.16216216216216 out of 54.16216216216216 out of 54.16216216216216 out of 54.16216216216216 out of 54.16216216216216 out of 5 (4.16)
5 Stars: 17
4 Stars: 11
3 Stars: 8
2 Stars: 0
1 Stars: 1
Narration: 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 (5.00)
5 Stars: 4
4 Stars: 0
3 Stars: 0
2 Stars: 0
1 Stars: 0
Story: 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 (5.00)
5 Stars: 4
4 Stars: 0
3 Stars: 0
2 Stars: 0
1 Stars: 0
Write a Review
  • Overall Performance: 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Narration Rating: 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Story Rating: 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

    " Erik Larson's books tend to explore the coincidence of two significant events. In this book it is the Chicago Columbian Expedition and that serial murders by HH Holmes. I found the story fascinating. The reader learns a lot about that historical event while at the same time being captivated by a gruesome tale. "

    — Brett, 7/21/2023
  • Overall Performance: 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Narration Rating: 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Story Rating: 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

    — Kelly Kempf-Mobley, 11/10/2022
  • Overall Performance: 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Narration Rating: 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Story Rating: 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

    — MJ, 1/23/2022
  • Overall Performance: 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Narration Rating: 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Story Rating: 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

    — Ian Paterson, 2/27/2015
  • Overall Performance: 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5

    " The research that went into preparing this book was so overwhelmingly thorough that it was "almost" enough for me to stomach the gruesome details of the serial killer. Makes me very glad I lived in Chicago-land a century later! "

    — Kris, 2/20/2014
  • Overall Performance: 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5

    " 3.5 stars. An informative, rollicking tale of the 1893 World's Fair and current events and characters during the turn of the century. It is well- researched and chocked full of fun trivia. Novel-like in its presentation, it is an easy entertaining read. "

    — Lauren, 2/7/2014
  • Overall Performance: 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5

    " I did not enjoy the forced intertwining of the two stories in this book. "

    — Traci, 2/1/2014
  • Overall Performance: 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

    " This book was what I was looking for. It opened me up to a whole new genre of books: narrative nonfiction. It has all the historically accurate facts without the dryness. "

    — Matthew, 1/31/2014
  • Overall Performance: 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5

    " I really enjoyed the book. The politics it took to get the fair in Chicago and then to get it built was fascinating to read about. "

    — Jen, 1/29/2014
  • Overall Performance: 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5

    " Amazing that this is a work of nonfiction. I love the juxtaposition of the two stories. "

    — Karen, 1/28/2014
  • Overall Performance: 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

    " This book is amazing. I was recommended by a friend and finished it over the holidays. It keeps you enthralled throughout, and balances the light/dark side of things extremely well. "

    — Earl, 1/10/2014
  • Overall Performance: 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

    " One of the best books I've ever read. Larson is one of the best and writes non-fiction like it's fiction. Just wonderful. "

    — Evan, 1/9/2014
  • Overall Performance: 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5

    " His usual amazing story telling. I would have given it more stars, but it was pretty scary--I had to keep putting it down! "

    — Kathie, 1/5/2014
  • Overall Performance: 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

    " This book is spooky! Loved the parallel story lines. Living in a town that also had a World's Fair, it was interesting to see the event come about through the eyes of the creators. While at the same time the horrific crimes of a serial killer. "

    — Azia, 12/9/2013
  • Overall Performance: 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5

    " Great historical book. Kept my interest. Makes me want to go out and explorer Chicago in a new light. "

    — Alison, 11/20/2013
  • Overall Performance: 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

    " Absolutely first-rate. I don't think I have enough superlatives to describe this book. Should be read by anyone and everyone. "

    — Brian, 11/17/2013
  • Overall Performance: 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

    " A great boom that keeps you in Suspence and as a fan of Chicago architecture I love how he incorporated the history behind Chicago's historic building. Great read! "

    — Spencer, 11/6/2013
  • Overall Performance: 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5

    " Not my style book wise but still worth reading due to it being based on actual events "

    — Mikayla, 10/31/2013
  • Overall Performance: 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

    " Loved the overlay of a murder mystery and historical fiction... could have left out some dry architecture details but otherwise captivating. "

    — Julie, 10/14/2013
  • Overall Performance: 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5

    " Did not finish. This really drags. But has some interesting data about one of the world's fairs. I'll try it again in a few months. "

    — Stephanie, 9/21/2013
  • Overall Performance: 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5

    " Excellent research about Chicago during the time surrounding the world fair, but a little laborious reading with all of the detail. "

    — Terri, 4/12/2013
  • Overall Performance: 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5

    " FINALLY DONE!!!!! It too me over a month to read this book. The longest it has ever taken me to read any book. I thought the book was good and interesting, but for me it dragged. "

    — Onix, 7/1/2012
  • Overall Performance: 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5

    " True story the read like crime fiction. I love the narrative juxtaposition, and quite the history lesson on the origins of the worlds fair. "

    — Kevin, 2/14/2012
  • Overall Performance: 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5

    " So many dates, names, and the two story lines. A very heavy read. "

    — Adrian, 10/20/2011
  • Overall Performance: 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

    " Things I really love = well researched novelizations of historical events. "

    — Courtney, 8/19/2011
  • Overall Performance: 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5

    " Frightening book about a mass murderer during the Chicago world fair. I learned a lot about the fair . "

    — Eva, 7/13/2011
  • Overall Performance: 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5

    " It was interesting to see how the lives of the two men intertwined, but if you aren't a Chicagoan all the place references were confusing. Also, the switching back and forth between all of the different story-lines made it hard to remember who everyone was and made the pacing rather slow. "

    — Bodagirl, 5/22/2011
  • Overall Performance: 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5

    " What can I say? Everyone in Chicago is into this book. "

    — Mary, 5/22/2011
  • Overall Performance: 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

    " History that reads like a novel! Loved it. "

    — Kristy, 5/22/2011
  • Overall Performance: 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5

    " A bit dry at times, but a true story written like fiction. Loved the history. "

    — Dori, 5/22/2011
  • Overall Performance: 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5

    " Would have been just as good without the serial killer part of the story--maybe even better. The story of the architects was the most fascinating to me. "

    — Katie, 5/21/2011
  • Overall Performance: 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5

    " A little slow to get into, but once you get going, very interesting. "

    — Andrea, 5/20/2011
  • Overall Performance: 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

    " This book was fantastic! It is two stories in one and both are completely engaging. "

    — doug, 5/20/2011
  • Overall Performance: 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

    " Great book! A non fiction that reads as fiction. The planning and creation of the Chicago World's Fair is dramatically reinacted, along with the plans and actions of one of nation's worst serial killer. The book is a good read for men and women of all ages. "

    — Anastasia, 5/18/2011
  • Overall Performance: 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

    " It's a history book that reads like a novel. Read it as a chronicle of American ingenuity and progress, or as a story of intrigue and ambition. "

    — Matt, 5/17/2011
  • Overall Performance: 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5

    " The most interesting parts so far are the parts that describe the murderer. As to the rest I am having a hard time reading. Hope to finish in a few months. "

    — Jeanette, 5/17/2011
  • Overall Performance: 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

    " If you like history that reads like fiction, this book is for you. Larson is a gifted writer and is able to bring history to life. I loved this book. "

    — Cortney, 5/17/2011

About Erik Larson

Erik Larson is the author of six previous national bestsellers—The Splendid and the Vile, Dead Wake, In the Garden of Beasts, Thunderstruck, The Devil in the White City, and Isaac’s Storm—which have collectively sold more than ten million copies. His books have been published in nearly twenty countries.

About Scott Brick

Scott Brick, an acclaimed voice artist, screenwriter, and actor, has performed on film, television, and radio. He attended UCLA and spent ten years in a traveling Shakespeare company. Passionate about the spoken word, he has narrated a wide variety of audiobooks. winning won more than fifty AudioFile Earphones Awards and several of the prestigious Audie Awards. He was named a Golden Voice by AudioFile magazine and the Voice of Choice for 2016 by Booklist magazine.