Erik Larson (born January 3, 1954) is an American journalist and nonfiction author. His books include The Devil in the White City (2003), a history of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition and serial killer H. H. Holmes, In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and An American Family in Hitler's Berlin (2011), a portrayal of William E. Dodd, the first American ambassador to Nazi Germany, and his daughter Martha, and Dead Wake: the Last Crossing of the Lusitania.
He studied Russian history at the University of Pennsylvania and graduated summa cum laude in 1976. After a year off, he attended the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, graduating in 1978.
Larson's first newspaper job was with The Bucks County Courier Times in Levittown, Pennsylvania, where he wrote about murder, witches, environmental poisons, and other "equally pleasant" things. He later became a features writer for The Wall Street Journal and TIME magazine, where he is still a contributing writer. His magazine stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Harper's, and other publications.
Larson has also written a number of books, beginning with The Naked Consumer: How Our Private Lives Become Public Commodities (1992), followed by Lethal Passage: The Story of a Gun (1995). Larson's next books were Isaac's Storm (1999), about the experiences of Isaac Cline during the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, and The Devil in the White City (2003), about the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago and a series of murders by H. H. Holmes that were committed in the city around the time of the Fair. The Devil in the White City won the 2004 Edgar Award in the Best Fact Crime category. Next, Larson published Thunderstruck (2006), which intersperses the story of Hawley Harvey Crippen with that of Guglielmo Marconi and the invention of radio. His next book, In the Garden of Beasts (2011), concerns William E. Dodd, the first American ambassador to Nazi Germany and his daughter.
Larson has taught non-fiction writing at San Francisco State University, the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars, and the University of Oregon, and he has spoken to audiences from coast to coast.
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