The Devil in the White City

  • by Erik Larson
  • Narrated by Tony Goldwyn
  • 6 hrs and 5 mins
  • Abridged Audiobook

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.


What the Critics Say

"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)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Enthralling part - its true!

This is an enthralling account of history. I listened to most of it in my car and then when I was on the last disc I brought it into the house so that I could finish. My husband came home from work and found me sitting in the floor staring at the stereo.

I love history! Most of my friends think I'm insane, they never even venture into that section of the bookstore. I've given this book (hardcover version) to several friends as gifts...told them enough of the story to get them hooked and then let them know it was all true.

High School teacher's should use this book to show students that history isn't about memorizing dates and names but about understanding the lives, situations, decisions, mistakes and triumphs of those that came before us...and then using those experiences in your time.

My only complaint about the audio book was that it was abridged...I read the hardcover as well and every word was worth hearing.
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- SST010

Wonderfully evocative, and well-presented

Tony Goldman's clear and dramatic reading of this fascinating book was a pleasure to listen to, and the story itself was riveting. I confess to paying closer attention to the depredations of HH Holmes rather than to some of the business dealings around the 1893 Chicago Fair, but the entwined story was quite well done, the historical period came alive in the telling, and I was sorry when the book came to a close, since I'd enjoyed it as a diverting story during long commutes.
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Book Details

  • Release Date: 02-07-2003
  • Publisher: Random House Audio