Marian Miner Cook
Athenaeum

A distinctive
feature of social and
cultural life at CMC

 

The Splendid and the Vile

Thu, March 3, 2022
Dinner Program
Erik Larson

In The Splendid and the Vile, renowned author Erik Larson shows, in cinematic detail, how Winston Churchill taught the British people “the art of being fearless.” It is a story of political brinksmanship but also an intimate domestic drama. Drawing on a wealth of untapped sources, including recently declassified files, intelligence reports, and personal diaries only recently available, Larson provides a new lens on London’s darkest year through the day-to-day experience of Churchill and his family: his wife; three daughters; son and unhappy daughter-in-law; her illicit lover, a dashing American emissary; and the cadre of close advisors who comprised Churchill’s “Secret Circle,” including his dangerously observant private secretary, John Colville; newspaper baron Lord Beaverbrook; and the Rasputin-like Federick Lindemann.

Mr. Larson will deliver the Gould Center for Humanistic Studies’ 2022 Golo Mann Lecture, also co-sponsored by by the Keck Center for International and Strategic Studies and Alumni and Parent Engagement at CMC.

Photo credit: Benjamin Benschneider 

Erik Larson is the author of eight books, six of which became New York Times bestsellers. His latest books, The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family and Defiance During the Blitz and Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, both hit number 1 on the list soon after launch. His saga of the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893, The Devil in the White City, was a finalist for the National Book Award, and won an Edgar Award for fact-crime writing; it remained on various Times bestseller lists for the better part of a decade. Hulu plans to adapt the book for a limited TV series, with Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese as executive producers. Larson’s In the Garden of Beasts, about how America’s first ambassador to Nazi Germany and his daughter experienced the rising terror of Hitler’s rule, has been optioned by Tom Hanks for development as a feature film.

Larson’s first book of narrative nonfiction, Isaac’s Storm, about the giant hurricane that destroyed Galveston, Texas, in 1900, won the American Meteorology Society’s prestigious Louis J. Battan Author’s Award. The Washington Post called it the “Jaws of hurricane yarns.”

Larson 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, Erik became a staff writer for The Wall Street Journal, and later a contributing writer for Time Magazine. His magazine stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, and other publications.

He has taught non-fiction writing at San Francisco State, the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars, the University of Oregon, and the Chuckanut Writers Conference in Bellingham, Wash., and has spoken to audiences from coast to coast.

Mr. Larson will deliver the Gould Center for Humanistic Studies’ 2022 Golo Mann Lecture, also co-sponsored by by the Keck Center for International and Strategic Studies and Alumni and Parent Engagement at CMC.

Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum

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