Erik Larson

Erik Larson is a master of narrative nonfiction. His vividly written, bestselling books have won several awards and been published worldwide.

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, about the 1915 sinking of the ocean liner Lusitania, was #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list. In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin, is a vivid portrait of the American ambassador and his family in Berlin during the first years of Hitler’s reign from which Larson has crafted a gripping, deeply intimate narrative. His critically acclaimed book, The Devil in the White City, intertwines the stories of the Chicago 1893 World’s Fair and one of America’s worst serial killers. It remained on the New York Times best­seller lists for a combined total of over six years, won an Edgar Award for nonfiction crime writing, was nominated for the National Book Award, and was voted one of the 125 most important books of the last 125 years by the New York Public Library. The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During The Blitz, a biography of Winston Churchill’s first year as prime minister, is a New York Times Notable Book of 2020, and a Kirkus Best Book of 2020. His audio only novel, No One Goes Alone, has been acquired by Chernin Entertainment in association with Netflix with plans to adapt it into a feature film. He is currently working on his next book to be released in Spring of 2024.

In his 2006 bestseller, Thunderstruck, Larson chronicles the strange intersec­tion in the careers of Guglielmo Marconi, inventor of wireless, and Hawley Harvey Crippen, England’s second most-famous murderer (after Jack the Ripper). His book, Isaac’s Storm, about the devastat­ing Galveston hurricane of 1900 and the birth of modern American meteorology, became an immediate New York Times bestseller, and won the American Meteorology Society’s prestigious Louis J. Battan Author’s Award. The Washington Post called it the “‘Jaws’ of hurricane yarns.” Among his other books are Lethal Passage about the 1988 school shooting in Virginia and America’s gun culture, and The Naked Consumer, about the ever-increasing amount of private information consumers lose to corporations and other business interests.

Erik Larson graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied Russian history, language and culture. He also received a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University. After a brief stint at the Bucks County Courier Times, Larson became a staff writer for The Wall Street Journal, and later a contributing writer for Time magazine. He has written articles for The Atlantic, Harper’s, The New Yorker, and other publications. He has taught nonfiction writing at San Francisco State, the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars, and the University of Oregon.



When asked what attracts him to historical fiction, Erik Larson replied that his goal is to “create as rich an experience as I possibly can so the reader can sink into the past…”. Larson’s many best-selling, award-winning books do just that. At SVWC 2024, Larson will take us on another journey back in time with his latest book, The Demon of Unrest, a suspense-filled tale that brings to life the pivotal five months between Lincoln’s election and the start of the Civil War.


Photo credit – Nina Subin