A journalist at heart, the bestselling American author Erik Larson has sold a number of books throughout the years, most of them being non-fiction. Focusing on his investigative nature, he works to report the facts as he sees them, getting behind the surface veneer, as he digs down exposing everything and laying all the details bare for the reader. This style has managed to gain him a great many fans over his long and illustrious career, as not only does he report with honesty, but integrity as well.
Early and Personal Life
Born on the third of January, 1954, the American writer Erik Larson was brought up in Freeport, Long Island in New York. After being brought up in Brooklyn, he soaked in a lot from his environment during these early years. It was this upbringing that was to inform much of his writing career later on, as he began to develop his love of literature.
Studying later on at the University of Pennsylvania where he learnt Russian history, he gained himself a well rounded education. Graduating in 1976 he took a year out before going onto study at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism where he graduated from in 1978. All this helped to secure him a strong background in literature and writing for a living, whilst also giving him his keen eye for detail and accuracy.
Initially starting out as a journalist, Larson went onto land himself a position at The Bucks County Courier Times in Levittown, Pennsylvania. It was here that he was to report on crime and nefarious ongoings within the local area, thus learning many of the tools of his trade as a writer in the true crime genre. He later took this to other magazines and publications, as he brought his stories to an even wider audience, gaining greater exposure.
He now lives in New York City, where he continues to both write and teach, as well as owning a second home in Seattle, Washington too. Living in a number of places in the past such as Philadelphia, Bristol, Baltimore, San Francisco and Pennsylvania, he’s now settled down living with his wife and three daughters. Continuing to publish books as well, he has a number of books still set to come out, which is something that doesn’t appear to be stopping anytime soon.
Getting his first book published in 1992, he was well on his way to becoming a serious force to be reckoned with within the publishing industry and world of non-fiction. Writing ‘The Naked Consumer’ he produced an expose of how corporate entities involve themselves within the lives of their customers, something extremely prescient considering the subjects rise in prominence in the years to come, especially considering that of the ‘No Logo’ movement which saw popularity in Seattle. Whilst this didn’t quite have the success he’d hoped for it still paved the way for his well respected writing career that was to come in the following years.
Gaining awards he’s managed to receive recognition and acclaim such as his Edgar award he was given in 2004 for his contribution to the Best Fact Crime section. Now living at his home in New York City, as well as his home in Seattle, he spends his time with his wife and three daughters, along with continuing to write. With many more books planned on the horizon Erik Larson shows no signs of stopping anytime soon, and this is something that will continue on into the foreseeable future.
The Naked Consumer: How Our Private Lives Become Public Commodities
First published in 1992 this was an early entry into the subject of social marketing, a subject that was quite ahead of its time, especially considering the rise of the internet. Whilst many of its details may seem somewhat dated, it’s still an interesting look into how the ideas came about, as the reader is able to witness the early stages of the phenomena of private and public data. It’s also a great insight into how Erik Larson has progressed for anyone particularly interested in his work and where he has come from as a writer.
Personal information is something everyone holds dear to them and, with this in mind, is it something that should be sold off as an asset to the highest bidder? Protecting the more intimate details of a citizens life should be a right for everyone, but what agency does the individual hold over themselves and what can they do to protect themselves? These are questions with have seen a major rise to prominence in recent times and it’s interesting to see them being posed so early on using real-life case studies and corporations in the public sector. Just how much do the corporations actually know? How exactly do they get this data? What are the rights of the naked consumer?
In The Garden Of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin
Originally published in 2011, this is one of Larson’s more recent releases into the historical non-fiction genre, something to which he has become fairly adept at over the years. Set just before the second world war in early 1930’s Germany it tells of the American ambassador living there with his daughter and his attempts to reconcile the rise of the Nazi party at the time. There is also talks of producing a film adaptation of the novel possibly starring Tom Hanks and Natalie Portman, with Michel Hazanavicius directing it.
In the hope that the Nazi party will become more moderate despite their sudden rise in popularity, the American ambassador William Dodd attempts to come to terms with the truth and the full extent of their evils. Focusing primarily on the years between 1933 to 1937, it also charts the life of his daughter Martha who’s also living there and how she’s dealing with it all. Despite their initial reluctance to face up to what’s going on and her time getting involved in the heady Berlin social scene following her divorce, they soon must realize the true nature of what is happening. How can they come to terms with the truth? What will President Roosevelt ask of them? Just what exactly will happen in the garden of beasts?
|The Naked Consumer||(1992)|
|The Devil in the White City||(2003)|
|In the Garden of Beasts||(2011)|
|The Splendid and the Vile||(2020)|