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

Extended Audio Sample The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America Audiobook, by Erik Larson Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.000029131834 out of 53.000029131834 out of 53.000029131834 out of 53.000029131834 out of 53.000029131834 out of 5 3.00 (160,649 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Erik Larson Narrator: Tony Goldwyn Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: February 2003 ISBN: 9780739302095
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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. In this book 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 book, go to http://www.DevilInTheWhiteCity.com. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Engrossing…Exceedingly well documented…Utterly fascinating.”

    Chicago Tribune

  • “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

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

    Esquire

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

    USA Today

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

    San Francisco Chronicle

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

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “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

  • “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

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

    Kirkus Reviews

  • Engrossing . . . exceedingly well documented . . . utterly fascinating. Chicago Tribune
  • “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. The New York Times
  • "So good, you find yourself asking how you could not know this already. Esquire
  • “Another successful exploration of American history. . . . Larson skillfully balances the grisly details with the far-reaching implications of the World’s Fair. USA Today
  • “As absorbing a piece of popular history as one will ever hope to find. San Francisco Chronicle
  • “Paints a dazzling picture of the Gilded Age and prefigure the American century to come. Entertainment Weekly
  • “A wonderfully unexpected book. . . Larson is a historian . . . with a novelist’s soul. Chicago Sun-Times
  • A USA Today Bestseller
  • Winner of the International Horror Guild Award in 2003 for Nonfiction
  • Shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger in 2003 for Nonfiction
  • Winner of the Edgar Allan Poe Award in 2004 for Best Fact Crime
  • Winner of the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award in 2004 for Nonfiction
  • Winner of the Washington State Book Award in 2004 for Nonfiction
  • A 2004 Book Sense Book of the Year Honor Book
  • A #1 New York Times Bestseller
  • A 2003 National Book Award Finalist

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Melissa | 4/19/2016

    " This one was too hard for me to follow, but the overall story seems to be great. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lorraine | 2/18/2014

    " Interesting story on the worlds fair in Chicago. History of a lot of things we are familiar with. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Machelle | 2/15/2014

    " Interesting characters made more because its true. While the story of the Chicago World's Fair White City was interesting, I would have preferred more on Mr. Holmes. But overall a well balanced read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carl | 2/14/2014

    " This book was pretty easy to read. It really was a good history of how the Worlds Fair in Chicago came together with the side story of a secretive killer at work. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lisette Wilson | 2/13/2014

    " The footnotes hold a few gems as well. Not as compelling to me as isaac's Storm. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Loren | 2/3/2014

    " Fascinating story, all the more because it is based on history. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sarah | 2/1/2014

    " Erik Larson certainly investigates his material thoroughly and with pleasure, but he asserts that his role is not to contribute to academia, but to "animate history", a goal which he, for the most part, accomplishes in his much celebrated account of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair and one of America's first serial killers. Larson thoughtfully entwines the two distinct stories, giving readers a welcome relief from the details of one to jump back to the other, all the while maintaining a level of suspense that shouldn't be possible in a work of non-fiction, yet none the less drives the work forward. Toward the end, however the work drags a bit, and there's an awkward chronological jump in the Holmes story. Still, history buffs and trivial pursuers will enjoy the plethora of connected facts, spinoff tales, and entwined destinies, and all readers will come away knowing and caring more about the time than they ever did before. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Maria | 1/30/2014

    " It was a very interesting well documented book. I had previously read Larson's the garden of beasts and I find him a very gifted writer, he is one hell of a historian, but it's a real accomplishment to be able to give real hard accurate historical facts without sounding to technical or boring. Highly recommend this book to any historical buffs out there! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kelly Craig | 1/26/2014

    " Loved the historical side of this book! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Brandi | 1/17/2014

    " I didn't enjoy the intertwining of the two stories. One did not give much needed context to the other. It was just ok. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kristee Bingham | 1/3/2014

    " incredible! loved the history and though it was super alarming, it was captivating. i love this author! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kristie | 12/12/2013

    " Great book. I preferred the history chapters to the thriller murderer mystery chapters but it was a great read. I felt transported to the Chicago world's fair. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lex | 11/27/2013

    " Very engrossing. Fascinating intersection between Chicago's history, the building of the World's Fair, industry, and murder. Couldn't put it down and finished this within 3 days. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Susan | 11/21/2013

    " A little hard to get started but very interesting, especially if you are from the Chicagoland area "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sherida | 10/30/2013

    " Good book. Enjoyed reading it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Leigh Coop | 10/20/2013

    " Book club loved this but I didn't. Liked learning about all the inventions inspired by the exposition including AC electricity, the Ferris wheel etc. but I didn't get why he put in the serial killer thing. Well I did but I didn't care frankly. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Thecowman32 | 7/23/2013

    " His best book! True life murder mystery with amazing descriptions of the World's Fair. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Christine Conley-sowels | 7/8/2013

    " One of my favorite books "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Ashley Coffman | 4/19/2013

    " The book was great when it came to the part about the actual murderer...it dragged out too much about the contruction of the city and the fair and reading tow chapters about board meetings for building the fair, it was all just too much really.. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Eric | 3/22/2013

    " Interesting interplay between the career of a serial killer and how the Chicago World's Fair was put together. The author makes it all hang together. Book provides useful insight into the development of engineering in the U.S. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Diane Hachigian | 1/20/2013

    " I just couldn't get invested in this book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Derek Kubilus | 12/12/2012

    " A page-turning jaunt through two of my favorite subjects, architecture and madness. They are blended here in a way that makes raising buildings seem suspenseful and murder intellectually intriguing. This is the most interesting history you'll ever read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Cathy Reads | 9/5/2012

    " Enjoyed learning about the WORLDS FAIR . "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Jackie | 5/30/2012

    " Tried three times to read this. Never once could finish it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lesia Williams | 5/16/2012

    " One of my favorite historical fiction books! Loved it! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tracey | 2/28/2012

    " BRILLIANT. I dare anyone to point me to a better, can't-put-down pc of nonfiction. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alex Kincaid | 1/31/2012

    " If you really like your history then pick up this book. It definitely starts off slow but picks up once you get to the fair "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Marykate | 1/27/2012

    " I thought my favorite part of the book would be the murderer but I was fascinated by the architect instead! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alexis Lang | 10/20/2011

    " Great book! Creepy! Vividly describes Chicago and architecture in the 1890s. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lisa | 6/22/2011

    " This was a riveting book- but a slow read. I am not a non-fiction reader typically so I found the level of detail excruciating at times, but I'm very glad that I 'soldiered through.' "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Stevie Lewis | 6/8/2011

    " I really enjoyed the parts about H.H. Homes. I grew tired of reading about the fair though. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Melissa | 5/24/2011

    " It took a while to really get into this one...but, the second half had me hooked. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bodagirl | 5/22/2011

    " 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. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dori | 5/22/2011

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

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kristy | 5/22/2011

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

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mary | 5/22/2011

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

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Katie | 5/21/2011

    " 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. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Andrea | 5/20/2011

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

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Doug | 5/20/2011

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

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Anastasia | 5/18/2011

    " 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. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Matt | 5/17/2011

    " 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. "

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About the Author
Author Erik Larson

Erik Larson is the author of four national bestsellers: In the Garden of Beasts,Thunderstruck, The Devil in the White City, and Isaac’s Storm, which have collectively sold more than five million copies and two of which have been #1 New York Times bestsellers. His books have been published in fourteen countries.

About the Narrator

Tony Goldwyn is an actor and director. He got his start on the big screen in horror films and then quickly moved up to supporting roles in some of Hollywood’s biggest pictures, including Ghost and The Pelican Brief. He directed the highly regarded film A Walk on the Moon, as well as Imaging Nathan and Animal Husbandry. He is married to actress Jane Musky and they have two daughters.