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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, by Erik Larson Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.00005602171153 out of 53.00005602171153 out of 53.00005602171153 out of 53.00005602171153 out of 53.00005602171153 out of 5 3.00 (160,652 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:
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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, DC. 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.

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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.”


  • “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.”


  • “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

  • 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 by 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 by 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 by 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 by 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. "

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