The Devil in the White City - Erik Larson

The Devil in the White City

By Erik Larson

  • Release Date: 2004-02-10
  • Genre: United States
Score: 4.5
From 1,651 Ratings


In The Devil in the White City, the smoke, romance, and mystery of the Gilded Age come alive as never before.

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.

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  • Very Good

    By Dirty JP
  • The World Fair with a Dash of Murder

    By Gotylery
    This book spent more time discussing the world fair, it’s struggles, involved parties and everything that went into it vs Holmes and his murder house.
  • The devil in the white city

    By FCB20180
    Did not expect to be reading a full boring history novel, thought I was going to be reading a thriller
  • Boring

    By rr0688
    FORCED myself to read at least 1/3 of the book since it came highly recommended. Couldn’t go past that without losing complete interest/pull my hair out from boredom. What a waste.
  • An ok book

    By Bookreader19
    I enjoyed the book, but was very disappointed with how much they talked about the fair and not enough about Holmes at all. Even the section about him wasn’t interesting at all. The history part was neat learned some new things but all in all not worth the money I would recommend borrowing it.
  • One of the best books I’ve ever read

    By 5pbmqa
    I didn’t want it to end and hope it becomes a Netflix limited series.
  • Surprisingly slow and boring!

    By Tashaww
    I thought it would be a murder mystery almost or at least fairly suspenseful. It is not! It’s incredibly SLOW and very boring. Unnecessarily long, he describes EVERY SINGLE DETAIL, including such stupidity of menu items! I has so many stories and other crap going on that it’s easy to loose track of what is even going on. Has barely anything to do with Holmes. It was way more about the fair. It’s ONLY redeeming factor is that it’s very well written. I’m shocked by the amount of people who “couldn’t put it down.”
  • Fave

    By Lizsmc1
    Loved this book
  • Vegan Author cannot focus

    By ybfree
    Allows his obvious vegan preferences to taint his story. Combine that with 5009 details about the world's Fair and what do ya got? The recycle bin. Read two chapters and deleted this forever.
  • Devil in the white city

    By A Smith.
    One of my all time favorites! This book is captivating and thrilling to the end!