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Erik Larson biography

Author Biography  | Interview  | Books by this Author  | Readalikes

Erik Larson
Photo: Mary Cairns

Erik Larson

Erik Larson Biography

Erik Larson is the author of five New York Times bestsellers, including In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin, which hit #1 and remained on the printed list for 35 weeks. It was published in Britain, France, Italy, Poland, Australia and a number of other countries. Movie rights were optioned by Universal Studios and Tom Hanks' Playtone. Erik's book The Devil in the White City remained on the Times' hardcover and paperback lists for a combined total of over three years. It won an Edgar Award for nonfiction crime writing and was a finalist for a National Book Award; the option to make a movie of the book was acquired in November 2010 by Leonardo DiCaprio. His books have been published in seventeen countries and collectively sold more than 6.5 million copies.

Erik's research has taken him to far-flung locales, and down innumerable strange alleys. For his 2006 bestseller, Thunderstruck, Erik traveled to London, Munich, Rome, Nova Scotia, and Cape Cod, as he sought to chronicle 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). To broaden his understanding of Marconi and his roots, Erik studied Italian; he achieved an elementary grasp of the language while developing an advanced appreciation for Italian red wines.

Erik also wrote Isaac's Storm, published in September 1999. In addition to becoming an immediate Times bestseller, the book won the American Meteorology Society's prestigious Louis J. Battan Author's Award. The Washington Post called it the "'Jaws' of hurricane yarns."

Erik graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied Russian history, language and culture. He received a masters 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.

Larson lives in Seattle with his wife and three daughters. Numerous beloved rodents are buried in his back yard.

Erik Larson's website

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Interview

Erik Larson talks about Dead Wake, his non-fiction account of the 1915 sinking of the Lusitania.

You often write about fascinating events in history that most of us have never before heard of, but much is already known about the Lusitania. What made you decide to write about its last crossing?

The Lusitania, like the Titanic, is just such a compelling story, and I felt I could do it in a way that no one else had. I was drawn by the prospect of using the vast fund of archival materials available on the subject to produce a real-life maritime thriller—things like code books, intercepted telegrams, even some extremely passionate love letters between Woodrow Wilson and the woman he fell in love with after his first wife had died. It became for me an exploration of the potential for generating suspense in a work of nonfiction. Plus, I knew the one hundredth anniversary of the disaster—May 7, 2015—was just over the horizon. Further, I'd wager that just about everything that people know or think they know about the Lusitania is just flat-out wrong. Certainly that was the case with me. The sheer wrenching drama of the event pretty much took my breath away. 


What does the phrase "dead wake" mean, and why is it particularly appropriate as the title of your book?

"Dead wake" is a maritime ...

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Books by this Author

Books by Erik Larson at BookBrowse
The Splendid and the Vile jacket Dead Wake jacket In the Garden of Beasts jacket Thunderstruck jacket
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Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Erik Larson but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

  • Caroline Alexander

    Caroline Alexander

    Caroline Alexander was born in Florida, of British parents and has lived in Europe, Africa and the Caribbean. She studied philosophy and theology at Oxford as a Rhodes scholar and has a doctorate in classics from Columbia ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Thunderstruck

    Try:
    The Bounty
    by Caroline Alexander

  • Howard Blum

    Howard Blum

    Howard Blum is the author of, the national bestsellers Wanted!, The Gold of Exodus, and Gangland. Currently a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, Blum was also a reporter at the New York Times, where he won numerous ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Devil in the White City

    Try:
    American Lightning
    by Howard Blum

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Editor's Choice

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Book Club Discussion
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"Strong characters, riveting plot and an honest look at life in the Australian outback make it easy to give this 5-stars!"
—BookBrowse

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