Reviews tagging 'Gaslighting'

白城恶魔 The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

13 reviews

sometimes_samantha_reads's review against another edition

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dark emotional informative mysterious sad tense fast-paced

4.5

I recently got a new job and I have an hour commute one way. I'm not usually able to do audiobooks because I get distracted and I was wary of trying to follow a story while also driving, but it turns out listening to an audiobook in the car is great. 

My sister in law recommended this to me. I'm not usually into true crime, but if its paced like this and narrated by Tony Goldwyn, I'm all for it! The parallel stories of Burnahm and Holmes was fascinating and I learned so much. The story was chilling but I kept listening to satisfy the morbid curiosity. I learned that Holmes is supposedly buried less than 30 minutes from where I live, which is wild.

I think I'll try to seek out more audiobooks. I quite liked Tony Goldwyn's narration so I think I'll start there.

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carriethruplotlines's review against another edition

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challenging dark informative inspiring sad medium-paced

3.0


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kingsteph's review against another edition

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dark informative mysterious reflective sad tense medium-paced

4.25


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anjadesa's review against another edition

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challenging dark mysterious medium-paced

4.0


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headachesince03's review against another edition

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adventurous dark informative inspiring mysterious tense slow-paced

4.5


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bookbelle5_17's review against another edition

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4.5

Review of The Devil in the White City
By: Erik Larson
            This work of non-fiction is the history of Chicago’s World’s Fair and the killing spree of Dr. H.H. Holmes.  When I looked at other reviews of this, I noticed it had mixed opinions.  Either people hated it, thought it was okay, or loved it and I’m more in the loved it category.  I do see the criticism that people gave it.  The book does feel like two novels in one and one aspect of the history of Chicago in the 1890s is more dominant than the other in this novel.   Larson spends most of the book telling the reader the history of the World’s Fair.  The city of Chicago had to fight for the privilege of being the U.S. World’s Fair location, as New York thought they were the better choice for it.  Even St. Louis wanted to be the city where the fair happened.  There were a lot of firsts that came from the fair like Shredded Wheat and the Ferris Wheel, which was trying to achieve the impact that the Eiffel Tower had.  The Pledge of Allegiances started at the fair, as well.  People fell in love with this American venture, but there many problems that came about with this ambitious task.  Daniel Burnham, the father of this White City, the nickname of the fair, was a difficult boss to work for and demanded things be done his way.  Many of the people who worked on fair had experienced illness, and Burnham’s friend and partner Root died before the fair even started.  Not everything was ready by opening day and they struggled to make enough money from the fair.   This history is juxtaposed with the H.H. Holmes story.  The resources on Holmes are limited, but from little Larson gathered he was able to put together a narrative on Holmes meeting his victims and how he kills them.  He is charming and charismatic making it is easy for him to seduce his victims and con his way out of the various debts he finds himself in.  This frustrated me, because it allowed him to get away with all the atrocious acts he was committing, and he takes sadistic pleasure (even taking the same pleasure he would feel when aroused) in getting away with it.  He even wrote his own memoir.  I’m not an expert but he comes off as narcissistic and delusional.  He practically built his own Empire as he bought several businesses such as a drug store and a hotel.  If you are reading Devil in the White City because of Holmes and thinking he’ll be connected to fair he’s actually not.   A loose connection might be that Holmes used the fair to his advantage.  It was a distraction for his victims and allowed him access to more.  He built the hotel as place his eventual victims could stay and he could eventually kill in way that he could do it without getting his hands dirty.  Hearing about how he set it up and the police eventually investigating the place is disturbing to read about as its described in detail.   I actually enjoyed reading about parts on the fair.  It was cool to read about the history of the Chicago’s World’s Fair and learning the challenges it faced, as well as its cultural impact.  I was morbidly fascinated with the Holmes chapters, especially since my only awareness of him was from him being in an episode of “Supernatural” as a ghost.  I think the author was trying to compare the journeys of Holmes and Burnham.  Holmes was murdering people at the same time that Burnham was trying bring this positive experience to life, and it highlights the different sides of Chicago.

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zakcebulski's review against another edition

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challenging dark emotional informative tense slow-paced

4.25


Erik Larson does it again!
This book only goes to reaffirm my love for Erik Larson and his writing.
From my understanding outside of the world of true crime fandom, this is one of the most popular true crime involved books ever. I can absolutely see why.
What Larson does in this book is nothing short of an absolute achievement of research and storytelling. The amount of coherency he commands while weaving these two utterly complex stories is mind boggling, and a feat that few alive could do.

The book tells two stories, one of the World's Fair of 1893, and one of a man who has been called "America's First Urban Serial Killer"- H. H. Holmes.
The World's Fair section was the part that I knew the least about, going in to reading this book. I knew that it occurred and some of the displays that were unveiled at this fair... and that was it!
However, throughout this book Larson expertly crafts all of the work that went in to designing and constructing this Fair.
I fell in love with learning the intricacies of the architecture- as someone who knows cryptically little about architecture, I commend and appreciate Larson's writing, as he describes this foreign concept in an easily digestible way.
There is a sweeping feeling over grandeur which is captured expertly by Larson as he explains the vastness of the hurdles the Fair committee is trying to overcome.
I thought that this was amazingly well done. There were several scenes in which I felt like I was witnessing an impossible task come to fruition- this was absolutely fascinating to read through.
I will say, on the same coin, this portion of the book did at points drag to me. I was very interested in portions of it, but, for some reason I just felt the pacing slowed down a little bit.

The true crime parts of this book regarding Holmes were absolutely fascinating. It was amazing to see the true amount of forethought which Holmes exhibited, and, how he was truly a super-villain. He built a three story monument to death, depravity, and murder. This is absolutely, and I mean this, terrifying. He built this in an age of non-development by comparison. Imagining the damages he could have caused should he have had access to more modern technology is truly terrifying.
Holmes is one of those people who was born in the right time for what he wanted to do, which is ceaselessly unfortunate, as his wants revolved around manipulation, control and murder.
The amount of thought he put into his murders and his cons was is nearly inhuman- he was truly a man alone in his thoughts and actions.

I have to commend Larson's ability to seamlessly weave these two tales together. Each chapter (primarily) alternates between the World's Fair and the deeds of Holmes. I thought that this was a great way to convey the story, as it was not an oversaturation over either story. There was enough discussion about architecture before skipping over to serial murder and back again.
I never found myself becoming totally bored and glazed over while reading each chapter, and, in fact, I found that there was a great amount of benefit to the pacing specifically in the way this book was written.

I was recommended this book when the Last Podcast on the Left covered H. H. Holmes back in 2016 or so? And, I picked it up right away, but, I never got further than page 40. I am glad that I got through this book, as I feel that this book is one of the modern greats. 
The illustrations of the time are exquisitely illustrated by Larson, and he puts the schema around the age so that we are able to visualize what is going on. 
The sense of wonder of the World's Fair was done in an exceptional way to the point where it truly felt like it was a fairy tale. 
I thought that the epilogue wherein all of the people who worked on the fair had their stories come to an end were so poignant. They had worked to create something absolutely amazing- something that defied the limits of human creation, and once it was done the bittersweet feeling of the end came to them all. 
Also? Learning about all of the shit that was at the World's Fair? The Ferris Wheel and its 2,000 TWO FUCKING THOUSAND passengers? Annie Oakley and Bill Cody? Tesla? Edison? TR? Braille? This place was fucking amazing for human achievement. 
I thought that this book was fantastic and I would recommend it to anyone who has even a passing fancy in either true crime or history- I think that both sides of this book are well done to the point where even the most fervent fan of either will learn something new.



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reddeddy's review against another edition

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dark informative mysterious sad tense slow-paced

4.0


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ascalun's review against another edition

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challenging dark informative medium-paced

3.5


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lyssierose09's review against another edition

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dark informative mysterious tense medium-paced

4.75


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